Carlos Sainz expects to be playing “a lot of catch up” to new Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc during the early part of the 2021 Formula 1 season. 

After playing a crucial role in helping McLaren clinch third place in the constructors’ championship last year, the Spaniard has moved to Ferrari to partner Leclerc at the Scuderia on a two-year deal, replacing four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel

Sainz further underlined his credentials as one of the strongest drivers in F1’s midfield on his way to taking a sixth-place finish in the drivers’ standings last season, including recording the second podium of his career. 

He is now preparing to test himself against Leclerc, who has comfortably outperformed Vettel across across the past two years and showed mightily impressive form amid Ferrari’s woeful 2020 campaign. 

Speaking to select media including, Sainz said he is relishing the challenge of going up against a driver “on top of his game” in Leclerc. 

“I’m looking forward to it, mainly because he’s probably one of the drivers on better form on the grid,” Sainz replied in response to a question by 

“You could argue he’s had a super strong season, he knows the team, he knows the car very well and he looks to be honestly on top of his game. 

“With the combination of youth and experience that he has now, I think I’ll be up against the strongest, or definitely one of the strongest drivers on the grid. It will be a great benchmark for me. 

“I will obviously start with a bit of a disadvantage not knowing the car, having very little winter testing, having one-day-and-a-half to prepare the season,” he added. 

“I will have a lot of catch up to do in the first half of the year, in the first races, as I get to know the team and the car. But it will be great to have him as a benchmark and see how quickly I can get up to speed and keep helping the team to get better.” 

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has stressed that both Sainz and Leclerc will start the upcoming 2021 F1 season with equal status as drivers. 

Having enjoyed a strong teammate relationship with Lando Norris at McLaren, Sainz hopes to mirror the respect he shared with the Briton in his new pairing with Leclerc in order to help push Ferrari in the right direction. 

“Obviously my relationship with Lando is great and I enjoyed it a lot,” Sainz explained. 

“Since the moment we met, we always had a good feeling with each other and we have managed to translate that into a very healthy and competitive relationship also at the track. We respect each other but we also keep it really competitive and really respectful. 

“I think this is helping a lot the team to move forward and to now be third in the constructors’ championship, we are always looking out for each other on track and bringing a fair bit of points for the team. 

“That’s exactly what I want to carry over into Ferrari. I’ve always got on well with my teammates, it’s never been an issue for me and I already get on very well with Charles and I have no problems with that and I’m sure I can also have a good relationship there.” 



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