Positive Sainz

Positive Sainz

RACER Magazine Excerpts

Positive Sainz

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As fellow Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen got the hype and headlines, Carlos Sainz Jr. made his Formula 1 debut under the radar, but has proved impressive.

Barcelona, May 2005. Fernando Alonso has won the past three grands prix and, as leader of the World Championship, he’s started to put Formula 1 firmly on the map in a country hitherto dominated by soccer and MotoGP. Spanish motorsports royalty meet in the Renault pit garage as two-time World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz catches up with the country’s new star. Sainz’s awestruck 10-year-old son, Carlos Jr., is delighted to be introduced to his hero.

Barcelona, May 2015. Alonso is having a tough time with McLaren-Honda, qualifying a frustrated 13th for the Spanish GP. However, disappointed Spanish fans have a new star to cheer, for starting a surprise fifth in his first home race is Sainz Jr. Now aged 20, he’s already making a mark with Toro Rosso.

“Barcelona was special,” Sainz Jr. tells RACER with a smile. “I fell in love with F1 at Barcelona 10 years ago, when I was a kid, and Fernando was like my idol, my hero.

“Then I finally made it to F1 after 10 years of fighting, turned up to my first Spanish GP, and qualified P5 with Toro Rosso – the kind of grid position that Fernando has so often been sitting in for the past few years. It was very special for me, a really incredible feeling…”

Given that he grew up in an environment dominated by cars, you might think it was inevitable that Carlos Jr. would gravitate toward motorsports.

“It wasn’t obvious, because I didn’t take the decision to go racing seriously until I was 10 years old,” he says. “Sure, I was playing around in karting with my dad, but I was also playing a lot of tennis, a lot of soccer, I was doing motocross. I enjoyed doing every sport. But then when I turned 10, and I came to see the Spanish GP and saw the world of F1, I made my decision.”

So why not follow his dad (RIGHT, with Jr.) into rallying, given that Carlos Sr. was one of the all-time greats?

“It’s very simple. When I was 10 years old, my dad retired, and rallies were not on TV in Spain. As a child I just watched TV and went to school! And what was on TV was this guy called Fernando Alonso, racing for the Formula 1 World Championship. So I had racing in my blood, I liked cars, I liked F1, and I said, ‘I want to be like Fernando.'”

Although Sainz Sr. had done some open-wheel racing early in his career, he knew nothing about karting, so there was a limit to what he could contribute. What he did know about was how to be a winner.

“The basics are the same, especially in terms of attitude, mindset and behavior that you need to have,” says Carlos Jr. “I think I’m very lucky to have a double World Rally Champion to teach me the attitude to become a champion. But even if my father was champion of badminton or tennis, it would have been possible to have that. In terms of actual driving and all that, he didn’t teach me anything. He believed this was coming from talent.”

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