Formula 1: The precarious position of Carlos Sainz Jr.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, Formula 1 (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, Formula 1 (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images) /

Currently being outshone by teammate Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz Jr. must find pace quickly in the 2022 Formula 1 season in order to avoid the infamous “number two” label at Ferrari.

Formula 1 icons Rubens Barrichello, Felipe Massa, Eddie Irvine, and even the likes of Kimi Raikkonen, are some of the most talented drivers of their respective times who were inevitably cursed by the second seat of the Scuderia due to falling behind their teammates on pace.

Ferrari hold a cutthroat reputation for prioritizing the success of the team and sequestering their “alternate” driver in a manner that makes Valtteri Bottas’s time at Mercedes look independent.

5 mistakes that cost Lewis Hamilton the title. light. Related Story

That same fear-inducing precedent has begun to rear its ugly head once again in Maranello, as the team in red have returned to the top step of the podium as a genuine challenger after an abnormal window of disappointment.

Having been consistently beaten by teammate Charles Leclerc in both of the first two events of the 2022 season in terms of both qualifying and race pace, Carlos Sainz Jr. needs to assert himself as a championship contender.

Otherwise, he is sure to have the opportunity stripped from him.

Having beaten Leclerc in identical machinery, which possessed top three pace last year, in his first season with Ferrari, the Spaniard had seemingly made an instantaneous integration with the team and put himself on even-footing with the “chosen one”.

Entering a season of new regulations though, Leclerc has appeared far more confident in the equipment underneath him, likely after its development was tailored to driving style.

Sainz has only put himself on level-pegging with Red Bull’s clear number two driver, Sergio Perez, thus far into the season. That is an unwelcome contrast for an aspiring world champion this early into the year, especially as we enter a crucial portion of the calendar during which Ferrari’s high-downforce car characteristics should pay dividends.

With a continuation of respectable results over the next three races, Sainz will come home to a Spanish Grand Prix in which, for the first time, he should have a genuine chance at claiming a podium finish – and possibly gathering unfathomable momentum with a victory on home soil.

This race is directly followed by the Monaco Grand Prix, and we can’t neglect to mention Leclerc’s “toxic” relationship with his home circuit.

Next. Top 25 Formula 1 drivers of all-time. dark

From that point forward, there are still several races in which to carry momentum before the summer break. But this part of the schedule will be an essential portion in determining the outlook of Sainz’s season.