Former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer picked Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz as his most improved driver of 2021, saying that he has all the tools to become a champion.
Sainz is one of the most underrated drivers on the grid and has been performing consistently for a couple of years now. Two impressive seasons at McLaren saw him clinch P6 in the Drivers’ Championship both times before he made the move to Ferrari.
With the Italian outfit, the Spaniard moved one step ahead to take P5 in the standings. He had a very solid season with this new team and ended up handing fellow Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc the first defeat at the hands of his teammate.
Having had a superb season with loads of points in his bag, Palmer picked Sainz as his most improved driver in 2021.
As part of his 2021 season review for the F1 website, he wrote, “A tough call for most-improved given Sainz has been in the top six in the standings for the last three years now.
“On the face of it, the fact that Sainz and (Lando) Norris would both jump out as improved drivers this year demonstrates that they were probably underrated as McLaren teammates, at least by me.
“But I do think Sainz has stepped up at Ferrari wonderfully, with the culmination being his podium in Abu Dhabi to take him to ‘best of the rest’ in the standings, and become the first driver to outscore Charles Leclerc as a teammate in any car racing series.”
Stepped up to the plate
“Like many drivers who changed teams, he started slowly, but finished fast and improved well throughout 2021 as well,” Palmer continued.
“When Ferrari signed him early in 2020, it seemed he would be a great second fiddle to Leclerc, but perhaps they might just be re-evaluating that assessment now.
“I think this year he has shown the potential to be an absolute top-tier driver.”