On the Road with Carlos Sainz, Who Averages 100 Flights a Year

But it is also true that when we fly, we’re usually very tired, either after a race or after training. So it always depends on the situation, how willing you are to spend the flight playing around.

Any pranks in particular that you’ve pulled recently?

This isn’t quite a prank, but we always play chess on our flight. That’s where Charles and I really take it to each other. We’re very competitive, and chess is our way of competing on the airplane.

You’ve been in Formula 1 for nine seasons now, so you’ve seen a lot of the world. What are your favorite destinations on the circuit?

One of them is Melbourne—I love going there in March at the beginning of the year to do the first or second race. It’s far away from us in Europe, but it’s a really cool place. I also love getting to know Tokyo, which has become one of my favorite cities.

I also like Montreal, Austin, Miami… and soon, Las Vegas—I’ve never been there. So there are plenty of new destinations I’m still discovering.

And what’s your least favorite destination?

Ha—even if there is one, I think I would upset many, many people by saying it! So, as a public figure, I can’t go there.

Probably a smart move. You’re also constantly staying in hotels when you’re on the road. For you, what makes the perfect hotel room?

The number one thing is it needs to be clean and tidy. Like, for me, that’s all I ask. We obviously go to some very good hotels, and some others that aren’t so good. If the not-so-good one is cleaner than the really good one, then the not-so-good one is better in my book. Hygiene is number one.

Efficiency of the room is also important. I need a charger near the bed, so you don’t have to plug things in far away. Modern amenities like room service or Netflix on your TV, for example, are also nice and make the room up to date.

Are you a standing shower or bathtub person?

I’d much rather have a very good, powerful standing shower than a bath. Although, if the hotel has both—then all the better! Maybe on Sunday night after the race, a good bath to relax is a nice option to have. But in the mornings, a powerful standing shower is always best.

What’s an essential travel item you need to pack with you?

Nowadays, hand sanitizer is important, after everything that’s happened the past few years. And normally I always take a hoodie, because on planes, sometimes—I don’t know why—they put the air conditioning on full blast. You can catch a cold on an airplane, so keeping yourself warm and cozy is fundamental, especially on those long flights.

You mentioned your jet-lag program earlier. That’s probably the hardest thing for me to wrap my head around about your schedule. Formula 1 will often go from Europe to North America to Asia all in the span of a month! How do you manage that?

I think jet lag is something that, if you really plan it, can be reduced to a minimum. You just need to be disciplined and know where you’re traveling and plan well in advance. There are also tricks, like caffeine, sunglasses, light exposure, melatonin. If you time those things according to where you’re going, you can make yourself adapt to the time zone two days earlier than when you’ve arrived. So if you really want to make an effort, you can actually make it happen, no problem.

So after this weekend in Italy, you’re off to Singapore—that’s a big time shift. You’ll start preparing for that days before you arrive?

Well, the interesting thing about Singapore is that we race at night, around 8 or 9 p.m. local time. So we actually keep a European timetable. We’ll finish work there at midnight local time, go to sleep at 4 a.m.—which is about 9 p.m. in Europe. So in Singapore, we don’t have to plan too hard for jet lag.

But then you’re off to Japan the following week.

That’s the weird thing! You’re in Singapore with a European timetable, but then on Monday morning you’re in Japan, so everything shifts.

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