F1 Driver of Interest: Can Ferrari's Sainz continue points streak in Qatar?

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz, of Spain, waits in his car prior the start of the qualifying run of the Formula One Mexico Grand Prix auto race at the Hermanos Rodriguez racetrack in Mexico City, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. (Francisco Guasco/AP)

Who has the longest active points streak in Formula One? Here’s a hint: he’s our driver of interest this week.

Carlos Sainz has finished in the points during the past 12 consecutive races, a remarkable run for the Spanish driver in his first year with Ferrari.

Steady Sainz has actually completed all 19 races so far this season collecting points in 17 of them. By a stroke of bad luck, the two races Sainz didn’t finish within the top 10, he ended up just on the outside both times in P11.

F1 heads to Losail International Circuit for Sunday’s inaugural Qatar Grand Prix and it'll be intriguing to see if Sainz can maintain his momentum on a new track.

Bio Box

Date of Birth: Sept. 1, 1994 (27 years old)
Hometown: Madrid, Spain
Years in Formula One: 7 (first season with Ferrari)
Car Number: 55
Career Wins: 0
2021 Standings: 7th place, 139.5 points

Second place Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz of Spain celebrates with his trophy during the Monaco Grand Prix at the Monaco racetrack, in Monaco, Sunday, May 23, 2021. (Gonzalo Fuentes/Pool via AP)

How it started

Like a few others on the grid, Sainz is the son of a former driver: Carlos Sainz Sr., who's a two-time world rally champion.

The younger Sainz was a fan of fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso, telling Formula1.com: "I met him in 2005 at the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona, and when I met him, I went back home and I told my Dad, 'Dad, I want to be like Fernando Alonso one day.'"

Perhaps a little too literally. Sainz has followed in Alonso's footsteps into F1 with eerily similar paths as both started out with Minardi/Toro Rosso before moving onto Renault, McLaren and then Ferrari. If that holds up, could Sainz one day return to McLaren and compete in the Indianapolis 500?

He signed his Ferrari contract in his PJs

Sainz told Motorsports.com the details of his contract signing with Ferrari and how due to COVID-19 and lockdowns, everything was handled via Zoom.

"We had been spending all the lockdown together with the family, and then suddenly one day I wake up around 8 a.m., and I'm still in my pyjamas," Sainz said. "I come into this room, and I see that my dad is ready with a pen. He says: 'You need to sign here: it is the Ferrari contract. And it's done if you sign.' So I signed it in my pyjamas at 8 a.m., just after waking up! I was like 'Okay, good morning to you too.'"

Ferrari > McLaren

Consider Sainz crossing the paddock from McLaren to Ferrari this season as just another chapter in a storied book between two legendary teams with devoted fanbases.

Ferrari and McLaren have had some famous (and infamous) battles over the decades from Niki Lauda vs. James Hunt in 1976 to Mika Hakkinen vs. Michael Schumacher in the late ’90s to Felipe Massa vs. Lewis Hamilton in 2008.

Both teams are synonymous with success in Formula One although not so much lately having taken a back seat to Mercedes and Red Bull Racing.

Nevertheless, the rivalry was renewed for third place in the constructors’ standings, however, Ferrari has broken away of late. Lando Norris has scored the team's only two points in Mexico and Brazil while Sainz and Charles Leclerc have combined for a whopping 37 points and given Ferrari a 31.5-point advantage over McLaren.

What McLaren has this season that Ferrari doesn’t is a race win. To add insult to injury, it came at Ferrari’s home track with Daniel Ricciardo and Norris finishing 1-2 at the Italian Grand Prix.

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz, second from left, of Spain, and Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, right, of Monaco, talk before taking free throw-attempts as former NBA players Chris Bosh, left, and Dikembe Mutombo, second from right, listen at the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix auto race at Circuit of the Americas, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021, in Austin, Texas. (Darron Cummings/AP)

The streak almost ended in Brazil

Sainz’s points streak came close to ending early during last Sunday's Sao Paulo Grand Prix when Norris made a bold attempt to pass him on the outside right at the start.

Although Sainz emerged unscathed, Norris sustained a punctured tire and was forced to nurse his car all the way around and into the pits for an emergency stop.

Sainz finished sixth after starting third while Norris was able to work his way up into P10 and score a point.

The other active streak

Sainz also leads another active driver record, although one more dubious: most races started without a win at 137.

He's also ninth on the all-time list but has a long way to go to "catch" Andrea de Cesaris at 208.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz steers his car during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Interlagos race track in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. (Andre Penner/AP) 

Smooth operator

What better way to wrap this up than with the Sade song that came out 10 years before Sainz was even born but has become his theme.

The story goes that the song was stuck in Sainz's head (and probably now yours) during the 2019 British Grand Prix and from there he started singing it again following other successful races.

After completing his final race with McLaren last season, he parted ways by belting the tune one last time.

That hasn’t stopped Ferrari from getting in on the fun.

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