Carlos Sainz Max Verstappen f1 red bull toro rosso

Sainz: Verstappen has evolved in every single area

Carlos Sainz Max Verstappen f1 red bull toro rosso

When Daniil Kvyat was given the boot in 2016 to make way at Red Bull for Max Verstappen, the team had a choice between the Dutch ace and Carlos Sainz.

History shows that Helmut Marko chose Verstappen over Sainz after the pair had spent their 2015 rookie season together at the Red Bull junior Toro Rosso team before the Dutchman was promoted to the place of Kvyat who simply underperformed and was replaced for the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix.

Incredibly, on 15 May that year, Verstappen powered to victory in his first race as a fully-fledged Red Bull driver – his 24th start in the top flight – and the rest, as they say, is well-documented history.

Red Bull’s snub of the Spaniard set him free for a spell at McLaren and Renault, treading water until one of the best seats in the house at Ferrari, where he is now entrenched after having established himself as an equal to Maranello’s blue-eyed buy Charles Leclerc.

Half a dozen years on stats show that 25-year-old Verstappen has claimed two F1 world titles and is now on 34 F1 victories, while Sainz has one Grand Prix win to his name and, of course, no titles in the top flight yet.

Carlos: Everyone can see how well Max has performed

SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 08: Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing and The Netherlands hats with Carlos Sainz of Ferrari and Spain during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on October 08, 2022 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images )

After the Mexico City Grand Prix, asked if he had praise for Verstappen’s achievements, Sainz replied: “I don’t think I need to anymore to Max for what he’s done this year, because I think it’s pretty obvious that he’s done a very good job.

“Everyone can see how well he has performed and how well he’s executed this season, especially after not an easy start of the season with a couple of DNFs.”

Indeed, at that point of the season Red Bull were on the ropes as Leclerc spearheaded the Ferrari charge building a healthy early lead in the standings, with Sainz, albeit luckless, also potent. But in the end, Red Bull under Adrian Newey’s genius watch made the RB13 into what it became for Max, a 14-time, record-breaking, race winner.

Clearly, the turnaround impressed Sainz: “How they managed to recover and put together a lot of wins, a lot of good moments through the year. They were consistent and strong in the areas where we haven’t been able to be that strong. Congratulations to Max, congratulations to Red Bull, because they fully deserve it.”

Carlos: He’s maximising also having a competitive car

Ferrari: A shock losing Carlos like that after 300 metres

As for Verstappen’s evolution from a precocious incident-prone teenager to the double F1 World Champ, he is now, Sainz said: “I think eight years in F1 is a lot of years in Formula 1. And from day one of Formula 1 to year eight you evolve massively.

“For sure he’s evolved in every single area. There is not one area where you haven’t evolved and the way that he’s managed to keep doing step by step, improving everything… because there’s nothing that we cannot improve in eight years.

“It’s fair play to him and now he’s maximising also having a competitive car, which is something that you need in F1 in order to win. If not, you’re never going to win,” added Sainz.

Verstappen, of course, has already bagged this year’s title, as have Red Bull, while Ferrari are in a tussle with Mercedes for second in the 2022 F1 constructors championship with two rounds remaining.

Sainz is sixth, in the drivers’ standings on 212 points with Merc duo George Russell and Lewis Hamilton between the Spaniard and his Ferrari teammate, Leclerc on 275 points. Last season, his first year in Red, Carlos beat Charles in the final standings.