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  • F Analysis: Carlos Sainz Vs Lewis Hamilton Over The Past Five Grand Prix

F1 analysis: Carlos Sainz vs Lewis Hamilton over the past five Grand Prix

When Lewis Hamilton announced his shock move to Ferrari for the 2025 F1 season, everyone in F1 was surprised to hear this big piece of driver transfer news before the first race of the year.

This driver move meant that Carlos Sainz had to find a new drive to stay on the F1 grid in 2025. His options are vast as many seats at teams across the grid are open for him, from Mercedes to Aston Martin.

Whilst Sainz has been on the podium three times with a win in Australia, Hamilton has had a poor start to his season with just 10 points to his name, making him ninth in the drivers’ championship at the moment.

Since the news broke, Sainz has had a stellar season for Ferrari as Red Bull’s main competitor, whilst Hamilton is further back in the pack for Mercedes in the upper midfield.

Frederic Vasseur and Ferrari will no doubt be questioning if they made the correct choice, but it would have been hard to turn down a seven-time world champion who wanted to drive for this historic team.

Here, Planet Sport’s Ayla Vaughan compares Sainz vs Hamilton over the past five Grand Prix and whether this driver transfer was the right move for the Prancing Horse.

2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

At the Yas Marina Circuit, Sainz didn’t finish due to an engine issue and Hamilton finished in ninth. The Spaniard qualified poorly in 16th and the Briton also didn’t perform well in qualifying, being 11th. These low positions on the grid would shape both of their races in different ways.

This unusually low qualifying result for Sainz and poor result in the end was similar to the race before in Las Vegas, where the floor of his car had to be replaced after running over a drain and removing the cover in practice. Therefore, he unfortunately continued this poor form by being knocked out at the first stage in qualifying.

“For the second race in a row, the Ferrari driver started outside of the top 10 but this time, he couldn’t fight back into the points,” according to Formula 1. His tire strategy was poor as he had two stints on the hard tire, and this meant he was of no use in the fight for second in the constructors’ championship with Mercedes. 

His failure to score dropped him from P4 to P7 and behind team-mate Charles Leclerc “in the overall standings – while Ferrari also missed out on P2 by just three points,” according to the same article

This blunder that started with qualifying so low and ending in losing Ferrari second in the constructors’ championship shows how a little mistake can have such a big impact in a competitive upper midfield.

Hamilton also “failed to reach Q3 in consecutive races for the first time since Germany-Hungary in 2014,” according to the same article

This poor qualifying, similar to Sainz, didn’t help his performance in the race compared to his team-mate George Russell. 

Both drivers were quite outperformed by their team-mates (who both stood on the podium) at the finale of the 2023 F1 season, showing neither had the best end to their season.

In the race, Hamilton lacked the pace to make much progress, but he did manage to at least finish in the points. 

Ultimately, he won out in terms of the bigger picture as he finished third in the drivers’ championship, four places higher than Sainz. 

Fans would have to wait to see who would perform better with their new cars in 2024. 

2024 Bahrain Grand Prix

At the Bahrain International Circuit, Sainz finished in third and Hamilton finished in seventh. At the first race of the year, Sainz qualified in fourth and Hamilton in ninth. 

This clear gap in performance would continue to fluctuate throughout the 2024 season, with Sainz always coming out on top for now.

Sainz had a mixed race weekend, with a difficult practice on Thursday but a more successful practice and later qualifying on Friday. He “managed his tyres well – on a track where degradation is traditionally high – while still showing great pace,” according to Formula 1

This was a massive improvement from last year’s Ferrari SF-23 which qualified well, but suffered massively with tire degradation in the race.

He passed his team-mate Leclerc twice to take third in the end, but the Monegasque had been suffering with “a brake issue (they were getting too hot following other cars) caused front locking that damaged the tyres and forced an early pit stop,” according to the same article

In the end, he won the fan-voted Driver of the Day, and rightfully so with his excellent driving and getting Ferrari’s first podium of the season.

Hamilton had “to back off and lift and coast to compensate for cooling issues – and that sent him backwards,” according to the same article

Many other drivers and teams suffered issues, as to be expected of the first race with their new car. Therefore, this issue hampered his ability to attack, but he did manage to move ahead two places of where he qualified. 

2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

At the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Sainz didn’t race due to undergoing surgery for appendicitis and Hamilton finished in ninth. The Spaniard didn’t qualify due to withdrawing from the race and the Briton qualified in eighth. Hamilton would continue to qualify in the lower half of the top 10 drivers, showing the pace of the car at this early stage.

In this unique scenario, it is hard to compare their performances since Sainz didn’t compete in qualifying or the race as Ollie Bearman filled in for him. Therefore, Hamilton and Mercedes emerged as the fifth fastest team, mainly competing with McLaren and Aston Martin in the upper midfield. 

Hamilton performed well in the medium and low-speed corners, but the car didn’t suit the high-speed turns, with the car bouncing in those corners. This meant they lost lots of time in the first sector, with its fast and flowing turns at this high speed track, at the second race of the year. 

Team principal Toto Wolff said “the team were losing around half-a-second in three corners where they were uncompetitive,” according to Formula 1

This shows that the car is a large factor into why Hamilton is not performing as well as Sainz since the best team, car and drivers are needed to win championships (or even just podiums).

2024 Australian Grand Prix

At the Albert Park Circuit, Sainz finished in first and Hamilton didn’t finish due to power unit failure. Sainz qualified in second and Hamilton in 11th, further showing their gap in performance at the third race of the year. 

Ferrari had a perfect race finishing 1-2, whilst “Mercedes failed to score with either car for the first time since the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix,” according to Formula 1.

Sainz was recovering from his appendectomy, but felt well enough to race in Australia two weeks later, although he admitted he wasn’t yet 100%. 

He proceeded to deliver one of the all-time great performances with his victory, as well as stopping Max Verstappen’s latest win streak of nine wins in a row. 

The Ferrari driver had an edge over his team-mate Leclerc throughout the race weekend, similar to how he has performed this year so far. He passed Verstappen for the lead on lap two (who soon after retired with his brakes overheating and catching fire) and controlled the race to secure his third career win.

“He and Verstappen remain the only two drivers to have reached the top step of the podium in the last 11 months,” according to the same article, showing he can capitalise on an opportunity when it arises. This win also came at the perfect time as he has shown himself to be a race winner against the dominant Red Bulls (or Max Verstappen) whenever they are not competitive. 

Mercedes’ trackside chief Andrew Shovlin called Australia a “bruising weekend” for the team according to the same article. Their car didn’t suit the track with its high-speed corners yet again, meaning they didn’t have the pace or speed to compete for a podium. 

Hamilton retired on lap 17, but the team has assured fans that they are not worried about their reliability and reiterated the fact that it is rare for both cars to not finish a race. 

The lack of points scored Down Under means Mercedes are fourth in the constructors’ championship, a step down from their 2023 finish in second so far.

In a different article by Formula 1, Hamilton said “I mean this is the worst start to a season I’ve ever had”. His admittal of this poor performance showed his awareness of the bigger picture, since he knows they aren’t fighting for wins and podiums at this early point in the season. 

Hamilton has remained hopeful in his last season with the Silver Arrows, continuing to stay positive and work hard to be the best driver he can.

2024 Japanese Grand Prix

At the Suzuka International Racing Course, Sainz finished in third and Hamilton finished in ninth. The Spaniard qualified in an impressive fourth and the Briton in seventh (his highest start of the season), meaning Sainz moved ahead in the race whilst Hamilton fell behind. 

Sainz had a great race as Ferrari finished ahead of McLaren in Suzuka, finishing in third and fourth compared to fifth and eighth. This meant he maintained “his 100% record of always winning a trophy in every race he has competed in this year,” according to Formula 1

This consistency is key to prove to teams why he should drive for them next year, with him joking that he is jobless in this Instagram post

He has continued to perform at a high level, putting himself into the shop window for F1 teams to enter negotiations with him and his team. 

Sainz is keen to speed up this change in teams, hoping to sign a contract for a drive next year as soon as possible. 

Meanwhile, Mercedes struggled in Suzuka with Hamilton being too slow in the first stint of the Grand Prix.

However, Hamilton described “FP1 as the best session they’ve had all year with the car in a sweeter spot,” according to the same article. However, on race day he was out of podium contention, with Ferrari claiming the bottom step of the podium in the end. 

Hamilton’s race result of ninth made this “the first time he has finished outside the top-five at Suzuka” since 2014 according to the same article

Clearly Hamilton struggled as he was slower than Sainz and they also had different tire strategies, with the Mercedes not performing well on the medium tires.

READ MORE: Carlos Sainz: With a fast car I'm a 'force to be reckoned with'

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