Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz Jnr, Toro Rosso, Melbourne, 2015

Sainz was “unlucky” to enter F1 alongside Verstappen – Marko

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In the round-up: Helmut Marko believes Carlos Sainz Jnr was “unlucky” to enter F1 with Max Verstappen.

In brief

Sainz “unlucky” to enter F1 alongside Verstappen – Marko

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko says Sainz was “unlucky” to enter Formula 1 with Verstappen as a team mate when the pair joined the grid as rookies together at Toro Rosso in 2015. While Verstappen was promoted to Red Bull the following year, Sainz never got the chance to graduate to the top team. Red Bull eventually released him and he joined Ferrari in 2021.

“Sainz is, without a doubt, a great driver,” Marko told Marca. “He was almost on par with Max in Toro Rosso. The bad thing for him is that he was unlucky to have Verstappen as a team mate

“The atmosphere between the two at Toro Rosso was quite toxic. With the configuration we had then, I didn’t see a way to keep him with us, so Carlos went through Renault, McLaren and then he ended up at Ferrari.”

Grosjean’s Lamborghini test ends in fire

Romain Grosjean escaped unharmed after his Lamborghini hypercar caught fire during the pre-Daytona 24 Hours test event.

The Iron Lynx-operated LMDh Lamborghini, which will compete in this year’s IMSA championship, suffered a fire in the pit lane during the weekend’s test. Grosjean, who survived a horrific fire in his final Formula 1 race in Bahrain in 2020, quickly exited the car without difficulty.

The number 31 Cadillac of Pipo Derani, Jack Aitken and Tom Blomqvist secured pole position for this weekend’s 24 hour endurance race.

Pagenaud unsure when he can race again

Simon Pagenaud says he remains unsure when he will be able to race again as he continues his recovery from a violent IndyCar accident in 2023.

The 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner was injured in a high speed accident at Mid-Ohio in practice last year which saw him barrel rolling through the gravel.

“Due to the accident, I couldn’t continue my season which meant that I only did eight races in 2023,” he said in a post on his website. “Ever since, I have been concentrating on getting my health back to 100%. For that, I have been working closely with a great team of doctors and I have been progressing every day.

“I don’t know yet if I will be back behind a wheel in 2024 nor if I am ready for it. I want to take things slowly to make sure that when I come back, I am at my very best again.”

Scholarship prize for F1 in Schools winners

The British winners of this year’s F1 in Schools national finals will receive an opportunity to study mechanical engineering at Aston University.

The competition aims to promote STEM subjects in schools across the world, with an international final held alongside a late-season grand prix each year. The winners of the UK national finals in Rotherham in March will be offered interviews to study mechanical engineering at Aston University in Birmingham.

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Comment of the day

A decade since the onset of the hybrid turbo era, has it been a success story for the sport? Kingsharkis not a fan…

The 2014-2020 era is the least competitive era in F1 history. The fact that from Felipe Massa at Silverstone 2015 to Antonio Giovinazzi at Singapore 2019, no team outside the big three even lead a single lap is a shocking statistic.

There’s a few reasons why this era was so terrible, but fundamentally it comes down to this:

1 – Comical differences in budgets
The gulf in spending power had never been higher than it was in this era. The money spent by Mercedes and Ferrari in particular was out of control. Meanwhile, we saw several teams (Caterham and Marussia) fold, while other teams were very close. Force India, Lotus, and Sauber were all very close to bankruptcy at one point or another.

F1 today is much healthier than it was in the past. Now with the budget cap, we frequently see a qualifying field-spread of only one second. In the past, that was the gap between Mercedes and the rest.

2 – Unequal engine modes between teams
The difference in engine quality in this time was shockingly bad, particularly in the early hybrid era. You needed a Mercedes or Ferrari to be competitive, and anyone misfortunate enough to be stuck with Renault or Honda was doomed. Mercedes and Ferrari were very tactical about who they supplied engines to (not teams who could threaten them in any way), and even the teams they did supply, did not receive equal engine modes. Romain Grosjean confirmed this after Spa 2015, when his Lotus car found another gear when Mercedes allowed their customer to use a special engine mode.

Again, today F1 is in a much better state, with the engines all being reasonably close and FIA mandating equal engine modes for everyone.

Long story short, the only two teams who had a fair crack at the sport in this time were Mercedes and Ferrari, no one else had a realistic shot at winning.

While F1 today is far from perfect, only a fool could deny that it’s in a much healthier state than it was in the Mercedes dominance years.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Brent Foster!

Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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17 comments on “Sainz was “unlucky” to enter F1 alongside Verstappen – Marko”

  1. Lance Stroll would do himself a massive favour if he just made the business of being a racing driver look and sound like it was something he remotely enjoyed doing.

    1. Coventry Climax
      23rd January 2024, 10:37

      Well, that’s the issue; He is doing himself a favour, where most of us would like him to do us a big favour.

      1. Coventry Climax, surely he is doing everyone a big favour by ensuring that the team still exists? Would you rather instead be complaining about the team having gone into administration and the hundreds of people who would have ended up losing their jobs, or bemoan the team being bought by the Mazepin family?

        1. Coventry Climax
          23rd January 2024, 19:51

          We’re talking about Lance here, not Lawrence. Surely having a second decent driver does not put the team at any risk.
          Apart from that, should Stroll sr. decide to withdraw, I’m sure there’s interest from other parties to buy the team. No jobs lost.

  2. Unlucky cause it meant he didn’t get the RBR suit. Just like any good driver, Sainz will be fine if he finds himself in a dominant car. Guess he’ll have to wait for Newey to retire or RBR to get another disastrous engine.

    1. or Verstappen to retire in 2028 after winning his 8th title.

  3. In some ways Sainz has been lucky.

    At least if the team he’s in now builds a rocket car that leaves every other car in its wake he has a chance at a WDC whereas I doubt he’d have one if he was paired with Max at RBR.

    1. In many ways he has been lucky.

      Given the typical duration at either RedBull team, Sainz might not be in the grid if he stayed with them. He has also enjoyed some learning in different environment and some good seasons along the way. I think his McLaren days might have been the best compared to expectations (with experience, more is expected from him now but he rather deliver similarly or less than while at McLaren).

      I don’t think he matches Leclerc but I think they do a good pair at Ferrari.

  4. Likewise to Ferrari, Red Bull Racing also had a fair crack occasionally in the early hybrid era, even more so than Ferrari in 2014 & ’16.

    1. Everybody paired with Max is unlucky. Sainz does not get the better over Leclerc, so no reason to single him out.

      1. for the love of…

  5. Coventry Climax
    23rd January 2024, 10:41

    Thank you, Kingshark, for calling me a fool.
    Allow me to do you that exact same favor.

    1. Oh nice, I thought I was the only one. I was tossing up how to reply, but not worth the effort. This will do nicely.

      Do we get jester’s hats?

  6. Coventry Climax
    23rd January 2024, 10:51

    It’s scary, the affinity between Grosjean and fire, especially now we know he’s a licensed plane pilot too.
    I hope his favorite dish to make is not something flambéed.

  7. 2 – Unequal engine modes between teams

    Which wasn’t something that only happened in that period as it was never uncommon since the start of the sport for customer teams to get engines & software that was behind the factory team.

    I mean in past era’s the customer teams would have been getting year old engines. Heck even McLaren in 1993 were running year old engines for most of the year due to Ford having a factory supply deal with Benetton which gave them exclusive access to the latest spec’s. And of course Ferrari had supplied Minardi, Lola & Sauber with year old engines for many years. Not forgetting the Customer Fords HB engines that many of the mid/backmarker teams ran through the 90s.

    Nobody was ever guaranteed or expected to get the same equipment as the factory outfits, Was just a normal & accepted part of the sport until it became a show where everyone needed engine freezes, long life components & equal performance. Back when manufacturer’s were actually able to push development it was difficult to get the latest specs for everyone so of course factory teams got prioritized.

    It’s actually funny looking back at how many things people complained about in that era just been things that had been a normal & accepted part of the sport since it’s inception.

    But then when people want the sport to be turned into a show with equal performance & stuff it’s no surprise that the history of the sport is forgotten & ignored.

    1. Which wasn’t something that only happened in that period

      Exactly; those two issues are indeed problems but they’re not unique to the V6 Hybrid era, or otherwise related to that engine. The issue of the engine modes not being available to all customers was a symptom of the lack of variety among engine suppliers, and them being involved with their own teams.

      The start of the V6 Turbo years will probably end up being the last time F1 had a meaningful difference between its engines. To see F1 basically ‘give up’ on competition here is unfortunate, but nevertheless not entirely the fault of these engines (or PUs). It’s also part of a general trend in in all of motorsport, where the technology is now so mature that it doesn’t really make much sense to invest a lot of money, time and other resources into optimizing it to find those final tiny bits of performance.

    2. lynn-m, it’s worth noting that the original poster is wrong in a few areas too (but, then again, they have also frequently shown poor technical understanding in their posts).

      Firstly, the person who made the claim was Matthew Carter, who used to work for Lotus, not Grosjean. However, Matthew Carter has no technical qualifications – he is a venture capitalist that ended up working in Lotus’s financial department because of his investments in Genii.

      Secondly, when other fans searched the transcripts from other races, it turned out that Williams and Force India also had been given access to that power mode in previous races – so, it quite clearly wasn’t a “secret power mode” if other customers knew about it and had used it since 2014.

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