Carlos Sainz built up a “special relationship” with Lando Norris at McLaren, and hopes to transfer that to Ferrari and Charles Leclerc.
During their time together at McLaren in 2019 and 2020, Sainz’s very positive relationship with Norris made them arguably the most popular driver pairing on the grid.
But for all of their antics, there was nothing at all lacking on the race track.
Between them Sainz and Norris took McLaren to P4 in the 2019 Constructors’ Championship, and then improved that to P3 in 2020.
Sainz would finish P6 in the Drivers’ Championship for both seasons, while making the podium twice in that time, first at the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix with P3, and then P2 at the 2020 Italian Grand Prix, a race where Sainz battled with Pierre Gasly for the win on the last lap.
So, Sainz describes that relationship with Norris as “special” due to their ability to have fun but also push each other on the track, even if at times there were difficulties that naturally come from such a competitive pairing.
Nonetheless, he hopes to transfer that “special relationship” to Ferrari and Leclerc.
“It makes it difficult in one way, because [Norris] is also very fast, and very easy-going, so you need to handle the two things,” Sainz told Autosport.
“But it’s also really enjoyable to have someone who after qualifying or a race, you are either happy or sad because he has beaten you or you have beaten him, but still coming to the race with a full open mind, not trying to hide anything from anyone.
“You are being sincere and honest to your opposition, to your team-mate, shaking his hand to congratulate him and recognise the job he has done and vice-versa.
“It’s something that I think is a special relationship, and something that I’m willing to keep having in the future.
“It makes the working environment and the team a lot less under pressure.
“It just makes everyone’s life a lot easier, and the team can move forward a lot quicker and in a better way.”
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Leclerc first arrived in Formula 1 back in 2018, graduating to the Ferrari team one year later after a single season with Sauber.
He and former team-mate Sebastian Vettel never shared the best of working relationships on the track, especially during 2019 after several high-profile incidents, so Sainz, and Ferrari for that matter will hope that this new driver duo will bring success without the fireworks.
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