Sainz Jr: The leader that goes under the radar

After yet another impressive race, one driver on the grid is really starting to show their true worth as a team leader. That driver is Carlos Sainz Jr.

Sainz Jr had an incredible race at the British Grand Prix, rising from 13th on the grid to finish 6th. This was an impressive one-off result but it isn’t the first time in 2019 that the young Spaniard has achieved such a feat.

In Austria, Sainz Jr started 15th, went long on is first stint and ended up crossing the line in eighth place and in Spain he achieved the same result having started 13th.

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The McLaren driver had a tough first couple races with his new team at the start of the year, suffering an engine related retirement in Australia followed by two non-points finishes in Bahrain and China but since then Sainz Jr has only failed to score points on one occasion – Canada – where he finished 11th.

Sainz Jr has always had plenty of potential and this was proven during his time at Toro Rosso. Up against an aggressive Max Verstappen, the pair were evenly matched throughout their season together.

Sainz Jr found life a bit harder at Renault, with a change of team and up against highly rated Nico Hulkenberg, but he has come alive at McLaren.

Relishing the team leader role

He has become a team leader role for the first time in his career and he seems to be relishing it.

Sainz Jr looks very much at home in his new team and has even gone to the effort of relocating to Woking in order to be close to the McLaren factory.

This is a sign of a dedicated individual who is determined to put in the effort and a move that will no doubt have gone down well with his bosses.

It also helps that he gets on well with his rookie teammate Lando Norris. The pair are frequently seen on social media messing around with each other and it is clear they have a strong relationship which will only help their team.

Both drivers know that McLaren are not in a position to be fighting at the front but their good working relationship is helping the Woking based squad get the most out of their car.

Under the radar

While Norris has taken the spotlight for the majority of the season with his impressive qualifying results and strong race performances, Sainz Jr has gone slightly further under the radar.

Despite this he is currently sat seventh in the Driver’s Standings with 38 points, 16 more than his teammate.

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The way Sainz Jr has driven, in recent races especially, has shown that he is capable of maximising the car in race situations.

Arguably he needs to improve in qualifying as Norris currently has the edge on one lap pace, but Sainz Jr can always be relied upon on race day.

His current form emulates his time at Toro Rosso. Quietly going about his work, in the shadow of his teammate, but still achieving strong results.

He now has experience to add to his bow and he is using it well. McLaren are finally on the up and Sainz Jr can be the man to take some of the credit if he is able to maintain his current form.

When Sainz Jr signed for McLaren there was a lot of uncertainty about the team and whether they were capable of getting on top of their issues.

It was make or break for the Spaniard, especially after seeing his fellow countryman, Fernando Alonso struggle at the back for the two previous years, but it seems to have been a great decision for both him and McLaren.

If both of them can continue to keep performing like they currently are, Sainz Jr will have the opportunity to carve himself out as a real star driver and McLaren, well they will have to start working out how they can retain arguably one of their strongest assets for the long term.