Carlos Sainz has denied the suggestion that a 2019 move to Red Bull was blocked by Max Verstappen.
Sainz was a Red Bull junior until earlier this year and at one point had seemed to be the next in line for a step up to the main team whenever a seat became available. However, when Daniel Ricciardo’s move to Renault was confirmed during the summer break, it was followed several weeks later by news of Sainz joining McLaren. Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly will be the one to replace Ricciardo next season.
Sainz had been sent to Renault on loan this year after spending three seasons with Toro Rosso, which included all of 2015 and the start of 2016 as Verstappen’s teammate. The pair were closely matched during that time.
Although some paddock rumours say Verstappen and his management played a role in Sainz not joining Red Bull, Sainz poured cold water on those claims in the latest edition of F1’s podcast.
When asked if Verstappen could have denied his promotion, Sainz said: “I don’t know, but I would say no. I don’t think drivers really have an effect on that.
“It is a very difficult question you could ask him, but I think as we got on well and we have a rivalry of course, I wouldn’t think he would go to Helmut [Marko] or to Christian [Horner] and say: ‘No I don’t want Carlos.’
“First of all, because the moment you say that, you sound weak, if you to go a team boss and say I don’t want him as a teammate, you already sound weak. Secondly, I don’t think he ever really said that.”
Sainz thinks an incorrect perception has grown in recent years that he and Verstappen are on bad terms, something he says is untrue.
“It’s one of the big enigmas of the paddock. Everyone thinks me and Max hate each other, and that’s absolutely not the case. We were having fun that year, I promise. We were having a lot of fun out of the track. In the track, we were extremely competitive.
“We knew we were battling for our careers, for our Formula 1 pedigree on our first year, rookie season. I got on with him a lot better than what people think.”