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Carlos Sainz earned his first F1 podium finish when he came third at last year's Brazilian Grand Prix © AFP/File ANDREJ ISAKOVIC

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Five facts about Carlos Sainz

MILAN, Italy, May 14 – Five facts about Carlos Sainz, who will replace four-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari in 2021:

Racing in the blood

Carlos Sainz Jr is the son of Spain’s two-time world rally champion Carlos Sainz, who won a third Dakar Rally in January. His uncle Antonio Sainz was also a rally driver.

Madrid-born Sainz started his career like most racing drivers in karting, winning the Junior Monaco Kart Cup in 2009, moving on to Formula 3, before coming through the tough selection process for the Red Bull Junior Team in 2015.

“I’ve given him some advice but the most important was ‘enjoy yourself’,” said 58-year-old Sainz Sr, world rally champion in 1990 and 1992 with Toyota, and runner-up four times.

Four teams in five years

Sainz has competed for four different teams in five years — Toro Rosso, Renault, McLaren, and now Ferrari — always bringing home useful points.

He made his Formula One debut in 2015 with Toro Rosso alongside Max Verstappen, before joining Renault in 2017, moving on to McLaren in 2019.

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So far he has raced 102 Grands Prix highlighted by a sixth-place finish in the first year at McLaren last season, underlining his consistent growth.

Ends McLaren drought

Sainz delivered McLaren’s first podium in five years with third in Brazil last year, awarded retrospectively, after a sensational comeback from 20th and last on the grid.

After a five-race point-scoring streak from France to Hungary, he finished the 2019 championship with 96 points and in sixth place.

“The big step forward was made last year, this year is more one of continuation,” said Sainz.

Speaks Italian fluently

Sainz should have no problem settling in at Maranello as he speaks fluent Italian, perfected during his karting days.

The Spaniard lived for three years with Italians while at Toro Rosso, whose headquarters are in Faenza, like Ferrari also based in the Emilia Romagna region.

Third Spaniard at Ferrari

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Sainz becomes the third Spaniard to drive for the ‘Prancing Horse’ after former two-time world champion Fernando Alonso from 2010-2014 and Alfonso de Portago briefly in 1956-1957.

“Carlos is doing great, and not only last year,” said compatriot Alonso, a friend and advisor to the young Sainz during his first steps in Formula One.

“Since Toro Rosso, he has done a great job. He had Verstappen as a partner from the beginning, after that he had (Nico) Hulkenberg. He has always had tough competitors at his side and he has always done well.”

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