The Formula One weekend in Canada almost saw a long time record broken. Carlos Sainz was chasing his first F1 race win and maybe a Ferrari tyre strategy decision cost him that chance.
But Sainz has a dubious record, he is third on the all time list of F1 drivers with podiums but no win. Nick Heidlfed holds the record of 13 podiums with no win from 183 F1 starts.
Carlos now has 149 starts and after his P2 at the 2022 Canadian GP has 11 podiums. Given Ferrari are the number two challenger to Red Bull it is likely the Spaniard will clock up another couple of podiums to equal Heidfeld’s record before the summer break.
Carlos Sainz joined Formula One via the Red Bull young driver training programme after winning the Formula 3.5 Renault series in 2014 and whilst thought of as one of F1’s next generation of drivers, he is in fact in his 9th season within the sport.
By way of comparison, Jenson Button first began his F1 career in 2000 with Williams. After a much and varied journey he found himself racing for the first Honda works team from 2006-08. Honda then withdrew from the sport and Ross Brawn bought the team allegedly for £1.
The following year against all the odds, Button became the F1 drivers’ champion.
For Sainz to equal the record of the British driver who was hardly a world champion in waiting early in his career, Carlos would need to win next season’s drivers’ championship.
Though at present it appears in the Ferrari duo he is steadfastly second best to Charles LeClerc.
Ferrari’s Spanish driver joined McLaren in 2019 and immediately delivered his best finish in the championship in P6 with 96 points. He followed this up with another P6 the following year though scored an improved 105 points.
Carlos joined Ferrari and instantly bettered his record finishing P5 in 2021 with 164.5 points and 3 podiums when Ferrari were the third best team of the season. After just over a third of this season he already has 102 points after various failures from Ferrari to provide him with a car capable of finishing races in 2022.
So the Spaniards record is one off incremental improvement in Formula One, but he still craves his first race victory.
This season he has been out qualified 8-1 by his team mate though in Canada Charles LeClerc withdraw after qualifying 1 because the penalties he was to take meant he was starting at the back of the grid.
The only other driver with such a woeful qualifying record to their team mate is Nicholas Latifi who is now 9-0 down on team mate Alex Albon.
So is Carlos Sainz and F1 champion in waiting?
Nico Rosberg believes not.
In an interview with Sky’s “Any Driven Monday” world champion Nico Rosberg was dismissive of Carlos Sainz current probably chances.
“Sainz has got it in him to be a good decent driver at Ferrari. But at the moment he has not got it in him to be a world champion,” observed Rosberg.
Nico states, “Based on performance, LeClerc has been out driving him every single race this year. So he still needs to find a bit of progress to be on a level with LeClerc.”
“He is still some way from there.”
Sainz beat team mate LeClerc in 2021 with 164.5 points to his Monogasque team mates 159. Further Carlos had three podiums while Charles had none.
Last weeks Canadian GP saw Ferrari’s Spanish driver come within seconds of winning his first GP, but a conservative choice of tyre under the safety car meant he was fighting Red Bull’s Max Verstappen with like to like strategies.
Lewis Hamilton at his best called for counter tyre strategies to turn around a losing position, often charging through the field to take against the odds wins.
To date, we’ve not seen Sainz take that kind of responsibility and given Ferrari’s poor race strategy record, he probably needs to do this if he wants a first F1 race win.