2020 F1 driver rankings #4: Carlos Sainz Jnr

2020 F1 season review

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Just as was the case last year, Carlos Sainz Jnr’s finishing position in the 2020 championship should give Red Bull food for thought.

The team brought him into F1 with Toro Rosso, yet decided against promoting him to the top squad. Now Sainz is Ferrari-bound, having scored exactly as many points in 2020 as Alexander Albon, Red Bull’s latest outcast from the number two seat.

Moreover, repeating his 2019 finishing position for McLaren amounted to quite a bit less than Carlos Sainz Jnr deserved from 2020. He delivered several great results in his MCL35 and might have added quite a few more if he hadn’t been struck by misfortune so often.

After taking fifth in the opening race and qualifying a superb third in the rain for the Styrian Grand Prix, Sainz’s season began to go awry at Silverstone. He began the penultimate lap of the British Grand Prix in fifth place, only to suffer a tyre failure which dropped him out of the points.

Carlos Sainz Jnr, McLaren, Monza, 2020
Sainz was less than half a second from victory at Monza
During the second race weekend at Silverstone it became clear Sainz’s car was suffering from a straight-line speed deficit compared to his team mate’s. After recording his second consecutive 13th place finish, a new power unit was fitted for Sainz’s home race, and he duly delivered a fine sixth behind the Mercedes pair, Max Verstappen and the two Racing Points.

The next few races were a mixture of feast and famine. A problem with his new power unit prevented him from even starting the next race at Spa. But at Monza he qualified a brilliant third behind the Mercedes drivers and ran second. Had Pierre Gasly not got lucky with the timing of the subsequent red flag, this might well have been Sainz’s first win; as it was he chased the AlphaTauri driver home for second place.

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His miserable luck returned at Mugello, where Sainz was one of several drivers eliminated in a pile-up following a Safety Car restart. But he had only himself to blame for his retirement at Sochi, where he took himself out on the first lap.

Carlos Sainz Jnr

Beat team mate in qualifying8/17
Beat team mate in race7/13
Races finished14/17
Laps spent ahead of team mate581/864
Qualifying margin-0.05s

He made amends with a superb run-in to the end of the season, which lifted him from 11th in the championship to that sixth place. Sainz took fifth at Nurburgring and sixth at Algarve, where his brilliant start flattered a sub-par McLaren: Sainz vaulted from seventh to first in two laps on the slippery circuit, but starting on the soft tyres ultimately backfired. Seventh at Imola looked about the best McLaren were capable of at this stage in the season.

Remarkably, Sainz took a pair of fifth place finishes in the next two races despite qualifying 15th for both of them. He worked his way forward carefully and effectively in treacherous conditions at Istanbul; in Bahrain he rebounded again after a brake-by-wire problem struck in qualifying. A terrific start in Sakhir helped him take fourth, and he signed off his McLaren career with his ninth top-six finish of the season.

That was a fine record in a car which was statistically the fourth-quickest of the year.

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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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66 comments on “2020 F1 driver rankings #4: Carlos Sainz Jnr”

  1. Well deserved 5th position, a toss-up with Gasly in 6th.

    1. It states 4th. Seems high to me. Don’t get where the bias comes from. Maybe this is triggered by false interpretation of what it means to get the 2nd Ferrari seat. It is rather an insult than a compliment when you’re asked to play second fiddle at Ferrari

  2. So we’re gonna have Leclerc in TOP-3? That’s wrong on so many levels that I need a drink.

    1. Quite astonishing, isn’t it @huhhii!

      1. Agreed. I know the Ferrari was a terrible car, but Leclerc’s performances werent THAT good.

    2. This is more wrong. Though RF always over rates Carlos. Sainz had his typical season, looked good against a non proven driver, made only a couple mistakes though catastrophic mistakes. shunted on starts multiple times, mostly by his own doing. Ironically as he criticized starts he ended up causing a few pile ups. Mugello was his doing.
      McLaren is happy to have replaced sainz with a top driver.
      @victor agreed.

      1. Which season did you watch? Mugello wasn’t Sainz’ doing.


    3. Its not going to drive me to drinking, or even pounding my keyboard, but I don’t think Leclerc belongs #3.

      I think #4 is fine for Sainz.

    4. Seems Racefans is way of this year with their ranking. Bottas, Sainz, Leclerc…. all very puzzling after not such an impressive season

  3. I’m bemused that he’s ahead of Ricciardo.

    It’s true that Sainz has improved since his Renault days, but he wasn’t all that much better than a somewhat overrated Norris in only his 2. season. Ricciardo absolutely wiped the floor with a somewhat underrated Ocon.

    I think Leclerc will outperform him by quite a significant amount (just as Verstappen will bring the Perez train back down to earth).

    1. @victor

      It’s true that Sainz has improved since his Renault days, but he wasn’t all that much better than a somewhat overrated Norris in only his 2. season.

      I don’t know how you can call Norris overrated when he’s ranked at #10 in these ridiculous rankings this season.

      Maybe I’m missing something here.. but it seems that Sainz was out qualified 9 to 8 by his teammate ..but he was narrowly better than Norris on Sundays 7 to 6.

      Yet.. Sainz is ranked at #4 and Norris at #10!?!? Ridiculous.

      1. @todfod I agree that there shouldn’t be as much of a gap between Norris and Sainz as there is in the rankings, but also Sainz was massively unlucky in the early races of the season – he was streets ahead of Norris for all of the first 6 races bar the opener. The eventual points gap was artificially close. The only issue I have with Sainz’s ranking is he should’ve been above Leclerc.

      2. Yes, the list is odd this year. Sainz isnt an inch better or has performed an inch better than Lando and Ricciardo

  4. Sets up a fascinating duel with Chas. Vettel was no measure in the end, both disinterested and a busted flush but i still think he’ll have the measure of Carlos. He didn’t beat Lando by much and in some measures not at all, and with Lando having a slightly lacklustre 2nd season my jury is still out.

    Mclaren should’ve let him off the leash to attack Gasly for a win, that was a massive miss for him individually as well as the ever cautious team and if he thought it was political at Mclaren he is entering the firepit at Ferrari. But he’s experienced enough and being the son of a great means he should be able to handle it.

  5. Personally, I think Carlos Sainz is too high on these rankings, and Lando Norris is too low. I think their seasons were very evenly matched, and I rated them 7th and 8th, with Sainz only fractionally ahead. Here is my race-by-race review of their seasons:
    Austria – Norris outqualified and outraced Sainz, scoring a very impressive podium with a fastest lap on the final lap. Sainz did a good job too, taking 5th place, but he was not on Norris’ level in Austria, and Norris takes an early lead in the rankings.
    Styria – Sainz puts in a superb lap to qualify third and is well ahead of Norris. He is then ahead of him for the first part of the race, before a very poor pitstop drops Sainz behind Norris, Perez, Stroll and Ricciardo. Norris has a very impressive end to the race as he passes three cars on the final two laps, and beats Sainz comfortably. Despite the poor pitstop and the excellent qualifying lap from Sainz, I thought Norris was better overall in Styria, so Norris increases his advantage slightly.
    Hungary – Norris outqualifies Sainz but has a very poor race and finishes along way behind his teammate. Sainz holds on to ninth in a solid, but unspectacular drive. Sainz closes the gap to Norris, but Norris still holds the lead.
    Britain – Norris outqualifies Sainz again, but Sainz overtakes him at the start and leads Norris for the majority of the race, before failing to look after his tyres sufficiently and dropping out of the points with a puncture at the end of the race. I rated them equally here, so Norris continues to hold the lead.
    Anniversary – The McLaren was not as fast as it had been in the first Silverstone race, and, in both qualifying and the race, Norris is just inside the top ten and Sainz is just outside of it. Norris therefore increases his advantage again at the top.
    Spain – Sainz just about outqualifies Norris, but then outclasses him in the race, with a very impressive drive to sixth while Norris is back in tenth. Sainz therefore closes in the gap, but Norris still holds a narrow advantage.
    Belgium – Sainz is the better McLaren in qualifying but fails to take the start due to an exhaust issue. Norris does a good job in the race, finishing seventh, so I rated them equally again, and Norris still holds a narrow lead.
    Italy – While Gasly and Stroll did get very lucky to be first and third, it is easy to forget that without the safety car, McLaren would have finished second and third on merit in Monza, so there was no luck involved in their 2-4 finish. Sainz put in one of the drives of the season to finish second, making plenty of overtakes, while Norris was less good than Sainz, but still impressive. I would argue that McLaren deserved a 1-2 finish in Monza, as Hamilton’s penalty was Mercedes’ own mistake. Sainz now takes over the lead in the rankings.
    Mugello – Sainz beat Norris in qualifying, but then dropped back at the start and was taken out in the start-line shunt. Norris put in a solid drive to sixth, and moves back ahead of Sainz overall, but only just.
    Sochi – This was a horrible race for McLaren. Sainz crashed out on the first lap trying to be too quick getting back on track. This was a very silly crash, in my opinion, so Sainz was rated poorly. Norris was very underwhelming as well, though, finishing a long way out of the points, so while Norris does increase his advantage, it is not by a huge amount.
    Nurburgring – Norris does a very good job with a power unit problem and runs ahead of Sainz for a while before eventually having to retire. He is also ahead in qualifying. Sainz does a solid job but is not particularly quick, so Norris extends his lead. At this point in the season, Lando Norris is fifth overall, while Carlos Sainz is only tenth.
    Portugal – A sensational first lap from Carlos Sainz sees him leading the race, but he eventually drops away and finishes sixth. Norris also does well, making up places at the start, but is hit by Stroll and loses any chance of scoring points. Sainz closes the lead gap to Norris, but Norris still holds a healthy lead.
    Imola – A very quiet race for McLaren, as Sainz and Norris take seventh and eighth in fairly anonymous fashion. Sainz is slightly better than Norris, though, so he slightly reduces the gap between the two McLarens.
    Turkey – Sainz has a brilliant race to finish fifth in Turkey and is not far away from the podium. Norris finishes a long way away from Sainz, but still scores good points in eighth., Nevertheless, Sainz closes the gap again and is now very close behind Norris.
    Bahrain – Sainz has to start a long way back on the grid due to a problem in qualifying, while Norris does a solid job. In the race, both McLarens are very impressive fighting through the pack and they finish 4th and 5th. Sainz is rated slightly higher here because he started further back, so he closes the lead gap again and is now very close to Norris.
    Sakhir – This actually turned out to be the defining race of the season. Sainz drove really well to finish fourth, while Norris is very disappointing, struggling to do a proper lap in qualifying and then finishing only tenth. The overall rankings now take a big swing in Sainz’s favour and he holds the lead going into the final round.
    Abu Dhabi – An excellent final round for McLaren, combined with a car failure for Perez, gives McLaren third in the constructors’ championship. Norris puts in a really impressive lap in qualifying to take fourth, and then is very slightly quicker than his teammate in the race. Norris therefore closes in, but Sainz wins overall by a tiny margin.
    Sainz’s final score was 7.529, and Norris’ was 7.471. This was the closest teammate battle of the year, as they also drew 8-8 in counting qualifying sessions. Like with Grosjean vs Magnussen, it is possible that Ricciardo, Gasly, Perez, Russell and Bottas all fitted into that tiny gap between the McLarens, but that seems very unlikely, so I think they should be closer together (mainly, Sainz should be lower). Usually, I mainly agree with Keith’s rankings, but this year we have very different opinions about the performances of the drivers. This is good, I suppose, as it gives me an excuse to write thousand-word reviews about the drivers.

    1. @f1frog

      Went through your 100 word review and completely agree on your evaluation of Sainz vs Norris. If I had to rank them this season I would put them at the maximum two spots apart… maybe Sainz at #6 and Norris at #8 .. with Perez splitting them at #7.

      1. Leaving Gasly 5th, Leclerc 4th, Ricciardo 3rd, and MaxiLewis shared 1.5th.

  6. Deservedly ahead of Ricciardo, but should be ahead of Leclerc as well. Charles just tried a bit too hard, plus his teammate is one of the worst on the grid. Also, Norris should be higher than 10th, but the gap between them was artificially close due to Carlos’ ridiculously bad luck in the first half of the season.

    Personally I think he’ll be beaten by Leclerc in qualifying, but will be better in the races, and I’d wager on them being pretty much equal in the final standings. Very exciting line-up for Ferrari – I hope the car can do the drivers justice.

  7. I’m really not sure I rate him this high. He never seemed quite able to beat Hulkenberg and Norris is virtually at his level already. Also Monza I think will haunt him – the McLaren was overall a better car than the AlphaTauri, he should have beaten Gasly. The guy’s capable of absolute brilliance now and then but doesn’t seem to consistently unlock it.

    With Ferrari I can’t help but think he’s being drafted in as a Barrichello – someone that Leclerc can comfortably beat but can pick up the goods when he fails. Also looking at their academy, with Schumacher, Ilott, Shwartzman etc… I really don’t think Sainz is going to be in that Ferrari for as long as he might hope. Also I kinda loved the friendship between him and Norris, it was refreshingly fun and somehow I doubt he’ll have that with Leclerc.

    1. @rocketpanda I disagree with the idea that he’s being brought to Ferrari as a number 2 – I’d think Ferrari may have realised over the last few years that having one driver significantly worse than the other is not actually helpful, particularly when they don’t have the best car. I expect him to be very competitive with Leclerc. Also, both drivers seem to have their heads screwed on right, so perhaps it’ll be a relatively harmonious relationship – would certainly be a good thing to see.

      1. I think we will see Carlos out-racing Charles in the latter half of next year, and I’m not sure how the latter will deal with that.

        1. I disagree with this. I think Charles Leclerc is considerably faster than Carlos Sainz, and his only weakness at the moment is the amount of crashes he gets involved in. But next year will be his fourth season in Formula 1 and I think he will be able to cut out the crashes and become the clear third best driver on the grid (in 2020 I rated him sixth).

          1. @f1frog

            Leclerc seemed to be massively overdriving the car this season. If he can calm down, he should beat Sainz. However, if he has another season like this, it’s perfectly possible for Sainz to beat him.

    2. Also, Schumacher has to prove himself in F1 and that will be difficult to do quickly in a Haas at the back of the grid, and Ilott and Schwartzman haven’t even made it to F1 – I doubt both of them will. Sainz is safe there for at least a couple of seasons I’d say.

    3. Also I kinda loved the friendship between him and Norris, it was refreshingly fun and somehow I doubt he’ll have that with Leclerc.

      But Norris and Ricciardo will make up in their fun relationship what Sainz and Leclerc might miss.

      1. @coldfly I don’t see that happening… Ricciardo himself poured cold water on that idea the other day. With Sainz and Norris it was easier because they were both trying to prove different things, Sainz that he deserved a top seat and Norris that he deserved to be in F1. Now Lando and Ric will both be fighting for the same thing – to be the leader in 2022 when Mclaren will hopefully return to near the front. I don’t think it’ll be anything like as easy a relationship as people think.

        1. @tflb Had to search for what DR said, and now that I have I think you are overthinking it. DR and LN have been quite friendly and jokey even as rivals on different teams, so now DR was asked if that means it’s going to be ‘Comedy Central’ (my term) now that they’ll be teammates. I think it was just the way he was asked, and DR took the opportunity to make it clear (to fans, the team, and their sponsors) it is business first, but he also said he will still be himself, and to that I say what else would/should we expect.

          Let’s not paint a picture like DR will now wipe the smile off his face. I predict the fun relationship that @coldfly predicts as well. I don’t think this is going to be some vicious rivalry while both drivers try to claim a status on the team. I think they will just both be working well together and doing their best to advance the team, especially given that they should have some teething problems adapting to the Merc pu and the resultant changes to the car (saying that mainly just because it is year one for the renewed relationship), so to me Mac will be lucky if they are knocking on the door of the top 3 but will almost certainly not be fighting for the Championships, and therefore no need for DR and LN to be fighting over a status on the team that won’t matter to their cause. Perhaps we’d see a different side to either or both drivers if indeed the gloves would have to come off as a result of them having a title(s) capable car, but methinks that won’t be in the cards at least for this year anyway.

          1. @robbie I’m not saying they’ll be tearing each other limb from limb – I just don’t think it’s going to be as harmonious as Carlos and Lando. And as I said, it’s 2022 that’s Mclaren’s big opportunity, in fact I expect a step back this year – but both drivers will want to shape the 22 car to their own preferences. How do Lando’s and Daniel’s car preferences compare actually? I don’t know.

          2. @tflb Lol fair comment and I certainly didn’t think that was what you were saying. I think I’m just more in the frame of thinking that both this year and next will be ‘discovery’ years for Mac, particularly because of their engine switch for this year, and then the unknown for everybody that is 2022. I don’t see them posturing for status on the team, but yeah it is an interesting question to ponder what the car(s) this year and next will feel like and whether one driver will prefer the feel to another. For now they won’t be building it at Mac for any one driver on purpose I’m quite sure, and as I say 2022 is going to be so totally different that I’m sure up and down the whole grid it is a question mark as to who, in what car on which team, is going to feel more connected with his car and the direction the team has gone in design and setup.

  8. This is a rating for this year, not drivers all time records otherwise Vettel would be higher. I think Norris being close to his level says more about Norris than Sainz. He was fairly comparable with Verstappen at TR at times so I have no doubt he’ll match up well against Leclerc. Ferrari will not favour either driver 100% until it becomes clear who is top dog. Next year will give us some valuable information on relative driver capabilities.

  9. It might be an unpopular opinion but I don’t think the McLaren drivers are anywhere near the top tier of drivers in F1. I would not be surprised if Leclerc and Ricciardo beat them comfortable next year, though it’s going to be one of the most interesting stories of next year. I could well be proved wrong, but I’ve always felt they’re in the mid-tier (very good but nothing special).

    As others have said, I feel this is way too high. For me Daniel Riccardo should have been an easy 3rd (did way more in a worse car). I would have had Sainz below drivers like Gasly as well (probably Sainz as well)

    1. *as well as Perez!

  10. Imagine putting Ricciardo in 5th and Carlos ahead. Despite dan beating max comfortably in 2016 and 2017. In their videos they are always failing to mention that Dan was 40 points ahead of Max by Monaco only for his season to be destroyed by 8 dnfs and 6 back of the grid starts among countless quali and fp failures and having to run lower spec engines while nothing happened to Max’s car.

    1. Despite dan beating max comfortably in 2016 and 2017.

      Partly offset by the events in 2019, 1307, and 124BC.
      How shortsighted the 2020 ranking overview is.

  11. Had to snicker a little when, as soon as I saw that it was Sainz’s turn to be rated I thought to myself there will be something in the article about RBR regretting letting him go. Sure enough, the article opens with that. My goodness RBR likely put Sainz behind them the minute they severed ties with him and moved on, but it would seem that whatever Sainz does for the rest of his career, perhaps even his life, will be regretted by RBR. Lol.

    Meanwhile, DR did get a mention for having left RBR and then Renault, and is being debated as to whether he just moved himself out of a better car again by going to Mac while Renault seems to be improving. However, no mention that RBR must be regretting DR leaving.

    Perhaps the difference here is that they chose to let Sainz go whereas they tried to retain DR, but in reality is this not all just water under the bridge? How much longer before RBR allegedly no longer regrets dropping Sainz? Should RBR still be regretting not offering to double Renault’s offer in order to retain DR? Where does it end? At some point don’t teams have to move on? Apparently not when it comes to Sainz. He must be way more special than I have managed to glean.

    1. Red Bull probably should have kept Sainz, as we have seen how much of a disaster both Gasly and Albon turned out to be (neither were ready when they joined Red Bull, but Sainz was ready in 2019). I think that is why Red Bull (allegedly) still regret letting him go. I think that Red Bull will stop regretting Sainz’s exit if Perez does a good job next year.

      I don’t know how true this is, but I heard that the reason why Gasly was chosen as Verstappen’s teammate instead of Sainz was because Verstappen refused to have Sainz as a teammate (because of the problems they had at Toro Rosso). Does anyone know if this is actually true, or if it is just a false rumour.

      1. @f1frog My point is that I highly doubt RBR had regretted the letting go of Sainz starting the minute he was gone. After all, as far as I know, they made the decision not to retain him, so why would they regret that, unless one thinks they literally dwell on the past, on a past issue that they made a decision on and that they know they can’t wind the clock back on and change anyway? It is not that RBR ‘allegedly’ regret Sainz at all. My point is that it is getting to be a tiresome add to any article about Sainz when imho there was never any regret on RBR’s part to begin with. My point is also to ask, has Sainz really done such wonders that literally RBR is still mulling over their decision to release him of 5 or 6 years ago? I mean, come on!

        As to the Max and Sainz thing, from what I understand, and this is from both drivers, there was no friction of any significance between the two of them. But what has been reported (not by the drivers) is that there was some friction between the dads of the two drivers as they pulled their respective weights with Horner and Marko regarding both their sons’ best interests on the team. I don’t know if that was the reason ultimately that Sainz was let go, but I suppose it could have been a component of the decision. But as we know there is usually two sides to every street and I’m sure we don’t know all the fine details of what led them to release Sainz. But regret it to this day? Extremely unlikely they even give it a passing thought, imho.

        1. I agree with you that they probably don’t regret the decision now, but I think they probably did during the first half of 2019 when Gasly was struggling.

          I find the idea that all the friction at Toro Rosso came because of the dads thinking their sons deserved better treatment very funny. It’s like primary school when parents complain to their child’s sports teacher and demand that their child gets put in the first team.

          1. @f1frog https://www.google.ca/amp/s/www.autosport.com/f1/news/147976/marko-doesnt-regret-no-verstappen-sainz-exit/amp/

            Here’s an article that sheds a bit of light. I still don’t agree that they might have regretted Sainz in 2019 after seeing PG underperform. Again, Sainz may have been on loan to Renault and still under the RBR program, but they had released Sainz to Renault before the 2017 season was even over. I really doubt two years later they were still fawning over Sainz just because PG was underperforming. They had already experienced Sainz, and had their reasons in 2017 to loan him to Renault, so to me it is safe to say that signalled the end of Sainz at RBR even though he was just on loan. They obviously were fine with him going to another team and that he was still a RBR program driver was just a contractual thing that had to run it’s course.

            And it’s not like Sainz would have been a given to do better than PG at RBR, as Sainz’ experience was with the junior team, not RBR themselves. I don’t think RBR needs be criticized, without the luxury of hindsight, for giving another driver in their program a shot at their top team, with Sainz being water under the bridge for them by then.

          2. @robbie was it necessarily a case of Red Bull releasing Sainz because they were completely happy with dropping him, or because Red Bull accepted that it was necessary to achieve what they wanted?

            There were quite a few reports at the time that, as Red Bull wanted to switch Toro Rosso to Honda’s engines as a way of testing the viability of making the switch to Honda engines themselves, Red Bull was having to negotiate with Renault over compensating them for cutting short Toro Rosso’s engine supply contract.

            It seems that agreeing to let Renault have Sainz was part of that compensation package, seemingly on the grounds that it was worth trading Sainz for getting the full backing of Honda for both of their teams in the longer term, but it doesn’t mean that it was necessarily a deal without compromises on the part of Red Bull.

            I would say that @f1frog has a point to at least raise the question of whether Red Bull might have preferred not to let Sainz go. He does note the problems that Red Bull then faced with both Gasly and Albon, and indeed it says a lot about how anonymous Brendon Hartley was that both you and F1Frog seem to have completely forgotten about his stint at Toro Rosso…

          3. anon Yeah for sure I had forgotten about Hartley, but then he isn’t part of the discussion at hand.

            As to what you’ve mentioned I found this…


            which hints at potential compensation in the form of Sainz for dropping the Renault pu from STR in favour of Honda a year prior to RBR having them too, as you have suggested was reported at the time. A quick google though, and I can’t say I saw too
            much in the way of confirmation of the details of that, but I admittedly didn’t spend much time.

            Couple of thoughts though relating to the theme of this discussion which is RBR allegedly still regretting releasing Sainz. For one thing they could not have known at the time they’d end up disappointed with PG and then AA and would have hoped for the best at the time of making those decisions, for they don’t have a crystal ball. Mainly they wanted to keep DR. Would they have had any more confidence in Sainz who had also not been on their top team?

            And secondly, if indeed Sainz was part of the cost of getting Honda, I would think they would have no regrets about that decision, even if it was a crucial component to the deal and it made RBR squirm a little, which I’m not convinced it even did that. I’m sure a works engine deal with heavily financed Honda was far more important than retaining Sainz, so no regrets I’m sure if indeed the two can be significantly connected as something on which the deal hinged. I’m sure if they really wanted to keep Sainz they could have compensated Renault another way and told them he was off limits to them, and what would they (Renault) have done?

          4. @robbie in a way, Hartley is still relevant because Red Bull ended up in a situation where they didn’t have any new drivers they could promote to F1, but needed to bring somebody in to fill a seat at Toro Rosso which they didn’t expect to have to fill. Equally, would both Gasly and Albon have been pushed into the parent team quite as quickly as they were?

            With regards to Marko, I would take a healthy pinch of salt with his braggadocio of “we didn’t need Sainz”, as Marko has not often been prepared to publicly state that he made a mistake in either hiring or firing a driver at the wrong time. Can you recall Marko showing contrition in public and saying “we made a mistake in letting [driver xyz] go”?

          5. anon Regarding what might have been with Hartley I think that is using the luxury of hindsight, and as well was he that desirable?

            As to Marko and a pinch of salt, I suppose that can be said of many people in F1, and how often do we hear any team principals, until they have left F1 that is, commenting much either way on mistakes in hiring or firing at the wrong time.

            I think more often than not by far, decisions are made at the time to the best of their abilities and judgement, and they hope for the best, and they don’t have a crystal ball nor the luxury of hindsight, which you seem to be shading a bit. Those inside F1 of whom we speak know they had to commit to something at the time and they trust themselves that they did their best with what they knew at the time. Sure, kick themselves on occasion internally, but overwhelmingly I don’t think they do much of that, let alone rue decisions publicly…and to what end? Perhaps you have examples of current principals and their regrets on hiring/firing?

  12. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    2nd February 2021, 15:03

    Like I said the P3 through P7 this season were going to be a toss up. I think it’s easier to group drivers than to rank them. Here are my groups.

    P5-P7 Leclerc, Gasly, Sainz
    P3-P4 Ricciardo, Perez

    I’m not a huge Perez fan but he had the biggest cliff to climb this season. I cannot deny the results even though I’m still convinced that Red Bull should have gone with Hulk.

    Ricciardo is Ric. His affable style is actually the exact opposite – I’m beginning to believe that Ric is using his charm as one of his main weapons in a passive aggressive manner.

  13. These rankings are really weird. Statistically the fourth fastest car, so he should finish 7/8th.

    Has nine top 6 finishes and that’s a “fine record”.

    1. @cduk_mugello

      Yeah, these rankings seem to reward the car as much as the driver.

  14. It won’t be easy with Charles.

  15. The paragraph noting that Sainz had miserable luck at Tuscany should also note that he was responsible for himself being in that unfortunate position – he spun himself which i am sure I remember keith himself highlighting at the time as a “seb spin” during the live coverage. The fact he ruined his own race was heavily masked by the fact he was taken out later. I wouldn’t count that as especially bad luck – as it will have taken good luck to get him back into a solid position again. This along with Russia was a very poor race by him. With these mistakes taken into account, I don’t think I could possibly say he’s been this much better than his team mate. His race pace has overall looked better, but Norris didn’t make big mistakes if I remember correctly. Between 6th and 9th would be more realistic for both i think, with Sainz only just ahead.

  16. @thegianthogweed Tuscany wasn’t a ‘Seb spin’, Stroll touched his front wheel and spun him… it was bad luck. You mention the two races where Sainz made mistakes, but not the several others where he had terrible luck – he would have beaten Norris comfortably in 5 of the opening 6 races without misfortune. And anyway, Leclerc, who is ahead of him, made far more costly errors, including taking out his own teammate. I agree that Norris should be closer, but also Sainz deserves to be this high up – although I’d put him 3rd ahead of Leclerc.

    1. @tflb

      I was only referring to his mistakes.

      To me he just hasn’t got enough to prove how good he is. He’s been nearly matched by a rookie then this year he didn’t look quite as good as last year due to his mistakes, and Norris is still really close. And over the last 2 years, the Mclaren was far better than 2018 and earlier. I personally think Sainz is a little over rated, but yes, he doesn’t make many mistakes.

      Anyhow, relating to the incident I’m on about, that was in no sense Stroll’s fault whatsoever.
      Drivers need to be aware that they have little grip in the first few corners. Stroll allowed Sainz over 2 cars widths on his inside. Saying Stroll turned into him is absolute nonsense. Stroll was actually slightly closer to the outer side of the circuit so Sainz had more than enough room on this inside. You could have had 2 go into that gap without contact. What happened was Sainz will have carried too much speed and due to the lack of downforce because of Stroll and other cars turning into the corner ahead of him, he won’t have been able to back off in time – but should have done so sooner.

      Coulthard’s words were “sainz spun all on his own” While it was clear they may have brushed slightly, it was more than clear that Stroll left even more space than he had the right to. If anything Stroll was very generous.

      This is why i can’t consider it particularly unlucky that he got caught up later on, as had things gone normally after his mistake, he will have likely had a rather underwhelming result given the ability of his car.

      I won’t downplay much else about his season as most was solid as well as plenty of bad luck, but too many blame stroll for that incident and don’t remember that it was his mistake that likely will have ruined his chances of a high result.

      1. I didn’t blame stroll, it was a racing incident. But not a Vettel-style unforced spin – it was just the kind of thing that happens on an opening lap. Doesn’t deserve to be mentioned alongside the Russia horror show.

        1. It didn’t just cost him though. Vettel had to get his front wing replaced because of sainz spinning in front of him. It was a mistake that was costly to him and other drivers.

          I just can’t see how it can be forgotten simply because of how much space he had on his inside and yet he still went too wide. He put himself into some totally avoidable trouble. So I disagree and he did bring it himself.

  17. My rankings from 3rd to 7th are so close I seem to change my mind on it every day.

    The most frequent conclusions I can draw are putting Ricciardo in 3rd and Leclerc towards the bottom end of the group due their respective consistency ( I appreciate Leclerc was forced into trying to outdrive the car this season but that doesn’t mean the mistakes weren’t his).

    Today’s thinking is:
    3rd – Ricciardo
    4th – Sainz
    5th – Perez
    6th – Leclerc
    7th – Gasly

    But even as I write this it feels harsh on Pierre so I’m sure they will all have changed in my head by tomorrow.

    1. I don’t think that is that harsh on Gasly. Afterall, Kvyat did look pretty close or better than him pretty often in the 2nd half of the season. So unless Kvyat gets a lot of credit for that, I don’t think gasly has been that amazing the whole season. Though I would probably rate him and Kvyat a bit higher than they have been. But yes, very difficult.

  18. I must admit I was wrong I said RF was most likely going to put Sainz ahead of Leclerc. carlos is 4th a single position ahead of Lec is still very wrong but I did not challenge that assumption.

  19. Incredible to think that a driver this poor can have this succesful of a career. Max crushed him, Hulk crushed him, Norris unproven driver matched him, but Sainz beat Kvyat…

  20. I’ve just read back on the team mate battles for Sainz and Norris and it really makes no sense that they are this far apart.

    It has been mentioned by others that the number of positions isn’t reflective of the true gap, but in this case, i think there is a huge gap between 4th and 10th. If it was very close, then Bottas could be 4th. And as a fan of him – that is way too high for Bottas.

    I’ll quote some of the sentences comparing them:

    “For proof that you can have two team mates who are a close match in performance yet also get on well with each other, look no further than Carlos Sainz Jnr and Lando Norris.

    In his second season as a Formula 1 driver, Norris was a closer match for his more experienced team mate.

    Compared to last year, Norris contributed a greater chunk of the team’s points and led his team mate home more regularly. Sainz still had a slight edge on race performances, while Norris narrowly won the qualifying battle. This was about as close as team mates get.

    With two drivers this closely-matched, McLaren must be regretting Sainz’s decision to join Ferrari next year. However, in Daniel Ricciardo they can expect a replacement who is every bit as competitive.”

    This literally is quoting almost everything written in this article. It honestly makes these rankings look ridiculous. There is virtually nothing in other than sainz having a “slight edge on race performances” that is in Sainz’s favour. Sainz should be ahead, but given the details provided in that article as well as the two separate ones, 10th and 4th is just too much of a difference for “team mates who are a close match in performance”


    Really can’t see the reasoning for this. As I’d said before, I think between 6th and 9th is around where I would put them, with Sainz only just on top.

    I think the difference between team mates here is just as hard to understand as Grosjean and Magnussen.

    1. Even statistically Sainz only had one edge over Norris: leading during laps before the checkered flag (when it doesn’t count).

  21. Yes, I think it’s indeed excessive to put sainz this far ahead, considering where norris is I think 7-8th would’ve been more realistic.

    I think it’s fair leclerc is ahead of him but probably 3rd place is a bit overkill, ricciardo should’ve probably been there.

    Imagine the mayhem that would explode on this site if either hamilton or verstappen didn’t take 1st place!

  22. Personally, I kinda like the fact that there’s a bunch of controversial ratings. It’ll set the stage for comparison of performances this year, which is far more interesting to me than “what has been”.

    Here’s how I think some things will play out – feel free to disagree.

    1) RBR will again deliver an average car at the start of the season and Max, because he once again can’t win the WDC because they’re too far behind after the first 6 races, levels out in performance and Perez starts rapidly closing the gap.
    2) Charles will start too overconfident and will have Sainz in front on points after the first 6 races. He’ll take stock and get in front but it won’t be as one sided as everyone thinks.
    3) Norris will initially lead Dan R only to get completely dominated in the second half of the season
    4) Sainz will have his usual “solid” season and everyone will write him off as usual.
    5) Perez will find the RBR car a handful and won’t be able to just “tyre manage” in the midfield because he’ll be told to push way harder than he is comfortable with.
    6) Hamilton will again run at the front and see off Bottas by about mid season

    1. @dbradock Ok I’ll play…
      1) I think the RBR cars will be better at the start than they have been the last few seasons, and will be relatively closer to Mercedes. I also expect big things from Honda this year. I don’t see Max levelling out in performance as he is always going to go 10/10 no matter what. But sure I can see Perez only getting more accustomed to the car and the team and they with him as the season goes along, so I think he should end up closer to Max as the season goes along than he will be initially.
      2) Similarly with Perez I think we should give Sainz some time to gel with the team and the car, so I expect CL to start off ahead and likely stay there all season. I do agree though that it won’t be as one-sided as many think. Let’s see what the car is like as they obviously need improving badly, and have seemed to have hinted that we shouldn’t expect miracles from them this season.
      3) Very possible. Just not sure about the ‘complete’ domination in the second half though, but yeah I can see DR needing time to gel initially as he learns about the team and the car and they about him. Of course there is the unknown of how they will do off the hop with adapting to the Merc pu, so they may have a lot of teething and setup issues at least initially such that no one driver is dominating the other while they just try to sort everything out as a team.
      4) Very possible.
      5) I don’t think the car will be the handful it was, but I also think Perez’ experience will help him to adapt quickly even if it is. I don’t think he’ll be told to push any harder than the tires will allow to keep them in the optimum temp window. I think both drivers have a bit of a reputation now for being able to get a long stint out of a set of tires at times.
      6) Very likely. If the car is as dominant though as last year, I don’t think VB will be realistically in the fight still by mid-season and I think the math and the odds will show us a third of the way in that it will be LH again. If the car isn’t as dominant relatively as last year, then I can see Max throwing a big wrench into VB’s plans, so I think either way VB is toast and I think he’ll have a much harder time holding on to second in the WDC, as in, I don’t think he will. And this will be his last season at Mercedes.

      1. On point 6, I so hope so, I have no trust on mercedes losing their edge even with the new regulations, and so having a russel challenge hamilton is certainly a blessing, tired of bottaschello!

  23. I must be missing something here, Sainz aint even good. Hamilton wins the Monza race behind Gasly and so does Max. His car is plenty quick enough. Ricciardo was the difference in the renault. Sainz had huge issues with Hulkenberg. Leclerc is well underrated on here did people miss his podiums or when he was like a 45 seconds behind Vet in the wet in Turkey he was lapping like 2 seconds faster as he was catching back up. I know Vet lost 10 secs in the pits, but the faster man was always Leclerc and was all season overall. He is going to wipe the floor with Sainz in qually. The races Sainz may do a little better than Vet but he will still be 20 secs behind each race.

    1. There’s no question leclerc is fast, if it were on pure speed alone 3rd place would be the worst leclerc deserves, people are questioning if all his mistakes aren’t deserving of at least 1-2 places demotion.

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