Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz were teammates at Toro Rosso in 2015. What is little known to many is that there was a toxic atmosphere between them then. Verstappen didn't stay long in this team, and his talent was immediately noticed. The Dutchman continued his career in Red Bull and right from the start showed that he is one of the greatest talents to appear on the F1 scene. Sainz was also impressive as a teenager, but the fact that Max was his teammate made the situation much more difficult. Many F1 fans believe that if someone else had been Sainz's teammate in those moments, Carlos would have done much greater things. Helmut Marko is precisely one of those who knows best the situation that happened in 2015 and after. Marko emphasized that Sainz was great in that period, 'almost on par with Max Verstappen'.
“Sainz is, without a doubt, a great driver. He was almost on par with Max in the Toro Rosso.
He was very fast in the minor categories. In his first F1 test at Silverstone, right from the start, he was slightly quicker in the fast corners than Sebastian Vettel, who was our reference at that moment."- Marko told Spain's Marca, as reported by f1i.com
A lot happened during that period. The two obviously did not have a great relationship, and several other factors contributed to that. In those moments, it was clear that someone had to leave the team, and the choice fell on Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard had to build his career in another team and prove himself
“The bad thing for him is that he was unlucky to have Verstappen as a team-mate."
"The atmosphere between the two in the team was quite toxic. The way the team was set up at the time, I didn’t see a way to keep him with us, so Carlos went to Renault, to McLaren and then ended up at Ferrari.”
According to Marko, Sainz had to contend with the perception of being the privileged son of a racing driver, which he felt was unfair. Marko highlights that Sainz had to consistently work hard to prove himself and overcome this preconceived image.
Many athletes had problems building a career precisely because of this. The enormous pressure and expectations they put on you sometimes destroy even the best. Many believe that it is necessary to immediately show your qualities, break records and fulfill everyone's expectations about you. In such an atmosphere where there is less and less patience and more and more pressure on you, many burn out and do not achieve their full potential.
Marko also mentions that, in terms of performance, Sainz was nearly as good as Max Verstappen. However, when the team had to make a decision between Max and Carlos, they chose Verstappen, indicating that the team prioritized Verstappen over Sainz in their selections.
If we were to look at the situation realistically, no matter who was Max Verstappen's teammate, it is certain that the Dutchman would have the advantage in those moments. To build a great career, it is necessary that you are sometimes lucky, and that many things go in your favor. Obviously, many things did not go in Sainz's favor. It is too late now to predict what course the Spaniard's career would have taken if someone else had been his teammate, but it would certainly have been interesting to follow his development if things had been different.
Carlos Sainz praised Max Verstappen
Despite everything that happened in 2015, Sainz has spoken about Max Verstappen in superlatives many times so far. He is happy that he had the opportunity to be a teammate of such a great driver. It is certain that when you have such competition, then you have a greater chance to progress and make a breakthrough. Back in September of last year, when Verstappen's dominance was clear, Sainz had only words of praise for him and recalled the moments when they were teammates.
Sainz explained that Max Verstappen consistently attracted a lot of attention and excitement throughout his racing career, even before he started in Formula 1. According to Sainz, Verstappen had a significant following during his time in F3, and when he entered F1, he quickly became popular with a large number of fans.
Sainz mentioned that the widespread interest in Verstappen didn't surprise him because, since their debut together in 2015, he consistently witnessed the attention and recognition that Verstappen received. Sainz attributed this phenomenon to Verstappen's exceptional talent and strong performance right from the beginning of his racing journey.
There are high expectations from both of them in 2024, especially from Verstappen. Ferrari fans are hoping that the Spaniard will do great things this year.