Carlos Sainz Jnr, McLaren, Interlagos, 2019

Ferrari first approached Sainz over Vettel’s seat after last season ended

2021 F1 season

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Carlos Sainz Jnr has revealed Ferrari first approached him about joining their team for the 2021 F1 season during the off-season.

The McLaren driver will replace Sebastian Vettel at the team next year. RaceFans understands Vettel was unhappy with the terms Ferrari offered to extend his deal beyond the end of 2020.

Ferrari announced in December Charles Leclerc had signed a new long-term extension to his contract. Speaking to the official F1 website, Sainz said Ferrari first contacted him in the “winter between 2019 and 2020”.

Sainz praised McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown’s response when he asked to initiate discussions with Ferrari.

“The moment I heard that [from Ferrari] I went then ask permission to Zak to go and talk to them in a more serious way. And without knowing what Zak’s reaction was going to be, he immediately came to me and say, ‘look, it’s an opportunity, go and talk to them and see what they’re about’.”

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Charles Leclerc, Yas Marina, 2019
Sainz and Leclerc at the Yas Marina drivers’ parade
The future Ferrari team mates already have a good relationship, said Sainz.

“I actually spend quite a lot of time with Charles in drivers’ parades. He’s one of those guys that I have probably a bit more of a relationship with: The guy that you go and find for a quick conversation in the drivers’ parade before the race.

“Also he used to be one of my main competitors who I was going to try and overtake at the start because normally he was a few places [ahead]. Instead of spending time with Daniel [Ricciardo] or Lando [Norris] in the drivers’ parade for one hour prior to the start, when you were wanting to overtake everyone and feeling that hunger of trying to overtake everyone, I said I’m going to spend time with one guy that I’m probably not going to see in one hour and a half.

“I was going to Charles and discussing a bit about the race, about the strategies and the car, how did it feel, and the qualifying of the day before. So I do have a good relationship with Charles and I’ve been in touch already with him and it’s been good so far.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 26 comments on “Ferrari first approached Sainz over Vettel’s seat after last season ended”

    1. ColdFly (@)
      23rd May 2020, 9:04

      Ask your boss permission to talk to the competition.
      You must love this guy. Golden.

      1. I suspect it is part of his contract with McLaren. On the other hand, one would have to suspect getting permission before talking to a competing team wasn’t part of Daniel Riccardo’s contract.

        1. Asking permission is the polite way of communicating your intentions. And Zak new he would loose Sainz regardless. Either for letting him go or for holding him back.
          Sainz should thank Marko and Horner for not releasing him to sign with Renault back then.
          Funny that by doing that they lost Ricciardo, turned him into one of the best paid drivers, freed Sainz from getting stuck at Renault, gave him the opportunity to shine and get the Ferrari seat and left Abiteboul without a driver twice…

        2. I suspect it is part of his contract with McLaren.

          That would be ilegal since the UK abolished slavery; one cannot stop people from talking to other companies about future employment. @drycrust
          They can have a non-compete, but that oftentimes does not stack up when challenged (an F1 driver does not have many alternatives).

    2. He’s one of those guys that I have probably a bit more of a relationship with

      I read this as, Sainz is an outsider to the group of guys they have been since karting.

    3. So, by that we can deduct that Vettel’s dish started to cook in Russia and was done a couple of days after Brazil. Renewal for him was never an option.

      1. Not that extreme; more like Ferrari did not rate his 7-course meal as more than take-away fast food.

        1. Sharp!!! But maybe you misplaced the Germans: it’s the other one that served a 7x course meal. This one was still serving only a 4x….

      2. Yep, Russia and Brazil had to be the final straw that broke the prancing horse’s back in regards to VET. He cost the team the win in Russia and then crashed into his teammate(again!!!). The would have been foolish not to get rid of him.

      3. @Only Facts! Q3 at Monza. Not everything is Vettel’s fault in this world. What followed in Russia was actually a bit comical on Ferrari’s part.

        1. Q3 Was more Vettel’s fault than Leclerc’s though. Vettel overtook Leclerc.

          Besides, Leclerc didn’t get a tow from Vettel either. Leclerc got his tow from someone else. Why can’t Vettel do that? He just lacks basic skills required of an F1 racer and then blames others.

          Like in Baku where he passed the guys in front of him and then also complained he had no tow. Sure Mercedes tricked him, but still he had at least one and IIRC even two cars ahead still (and then he overtook them).

          1. @f1osaurus Oh come now, this is getting silly. I get the narrative to follow these days is that Vettel lacks basic race skills, but blaming him for everything is just nuts. I bet Leclerc’s awful start at Russia was also more Vettel’s fault.

    4. Move along – nothing to see.

      Teams are always talking to drivers. There are many semi-contracts around all the time too. Don’t forget it wasn’t too long ago Rosberg won the WDC and ran away, and Button had to cover for Alonso after he’d left F1, so teams have to keep events like that in mind.

    5. That’s weird. I remember Binotto saying specifically during testing that Vettel was their first choice. Now I find it that much harder to believe him when interviewed.

      1. Read the article, not just the headline.

      2. Unfreakingbelievable….someone being deceitful during an F1 interview….I guess there is always a first time something like that happens. So sad.

      3. Maybe Vettel was their first choice, but Ferrari was lining up Sainz as a backup plan. If they really did give Seb a lowball offer on his contract they must have known there was a good chance he wouldn’t accept it.

      4. Oh wow
        You mean all the things we hear in interviews are correct?
        So Wolff and Hamilton weren’t lying about the W10?
        It really was a worse car?

    6. Ferrari should have contacted Perez instead. He can easily take the pressure, is excellent at handling tyre issues and would hand the team a whole bag of points.

      1. @balue

        He’d also crash in to Leclerc every time they go racing and cause a world of chaos in the Ferrari camp when he’s getting beaten by Leclerc.

    7. @todfod There’s that, but so will likely Sainz.

      Main point is getting to grips with tyres and steady car development, not a youngster still unsure about the ropes and willing to risk too much for glory runs and ending up crashing (or crossing the line and crashing to get an excuse for being whopped).

      1. @balue

        Just doesn’t seem Sainz will be that difficult to handle. Perez was dumped by Mclaren because he wasn’t easy to handle.. and we’ve also seen how Perez behaved when a younger and faster Ocon was his teammate. I just don’t see Ferrari dealing with the BS of a #2 driver.

        1. @todfod Toro Rosso and Verstappen will tell you different. Close to a feud by all accounts, and rumour has it that Max will not allow Sainz to partner him at Red Bull, so disruptive did he find the Spaniard moods.

          Everyone knows it’s Ferrari’s DNA to play first and seconds, so what’s to say there won’t be similar happening there, especially by a young charger who knows his career is practically over if he’s found to accept being subordinated, so it’s virtually guaranteed there will be moods and incidents with him too (as we all know Leclerc will give him a whopping)

          With Perez, you’d still get the results as well. IMO very few who can deliver like this seasoned pro. Over a season his clever race craft could see him right up there.

          1. @balue

            Agree to a certain extent.. Max and Carlos has fireworks in their first season. Both wanted to establish themselves as the next big prospect for the Red Bull parent team. But let’s see since then… Sainz worked well with Kvyat… he worked well with Hulkenberg.. he works great with Norris despite the results being so close. I would put money on him working well with Leclerc as well.

            Perez on the other hand… played well with Kobayashi.. went at war with Jenson… went decently well with Hulkenberg.. went ballistic with Ocon.

            Safer money from a temperament would still be on Sainz. Regarding the talent of Perez vs Sainz… none are spectacular .. and they don’t need to be as #2 drivers. Temperament > Skill for this role and which is why Sainz will be better for them.

            1. I agree with you @todfod, Sainz is a very good team player and proved to be a good teammate as well in every season he has had in F1. I don’t think Perez was an option either. Sainz is just what Ferrari needs, being young, fast, reliable… he even speaks fluent Italian.

    8. No wonder why they did. Binotto and Ferrari known it from the very start that Sainz was their future, alongside Leclerc, that is why they did not hesitate to offer Sainz a contract, even before Vettel. Bold decision-making.

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