Carlos Sainz’s victory in Singapore yesterday, although only his second in his career, showcased once again his remarkable qualities as a driver. Sainz is not just a skilled racer, but also a strategic thinker, much like Niki Lauda and Alain Prost. He shares with Jody Scheckter the maturity and composure that comes with experience at Ferrari.
Sainz is not only one of the most intelligent drivers on the grid, but he also possesses a strong personality that allows him to stand his ground and voice his opinions when he believes a strategy is wrong. Despite his politeness and courtesy, Sainz is charismatic and assertive, often guiding his team towards the right tactics and even saying no when necessary. In this aspect, he resembles his father Carlos, who achieved greatness in rallying and raids.
When comparing Sainz to the F1 greats, three names come to mind: Niki Lauda, Jody Scheckter, and Alain Prost, in chronological order. These drivers were known for their intelligence and strategic prowess, which set them apart from their competitors. Their nicknames, “The Computer” for Lauda and “The Professor” for Prost, speak volumes about their vision and race management skills. Scheckter, on the other hand, earned the nickname “The Bear” due to his serious and reserved nature. He showcased his tactical abilities during his time at Ferrari alongside the speed demon Gilles Villeneuve, winning the 1979 World Championship, the last for Ferrari until the Schumacher era in 2000.
Although Sainz may not be the fastest in qualifying (he has only secured five pole positions so far), his ability to understand the limits of his car, his consistent performance, and his willingness to settle for the best possible result in a given situation have allowed him to outperform his teammate Charles Leclerc on several occasions. While Leclerc often falls victim to his own aggression, Sainz rarely makes mistakes. And in the second half of the season, he has been flawless.
While it may be too early to place Sainz among the F1 greats, his victory in Singapore reaffirms his status as a talented and intelligent driver. With time and more victories, he may well earn his place among the legends of the sport.
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