McLaren F1 Team CEO Zak Brown reckons that Carlos Sainz Jr. could give Charles Leclerc “a run for his money” at Scuderia Ferrari.
Sainz is set to fill the seat of the departing Sebastian Vettel for the 2021 season, who will leave the Scuderia when his contract ends at the end of 2020.
The Spaniard will be teaming up with Leclerc, who outperformed Vettel last season and managed to get fourth in the drivers championship while Vettel finished twenty-four points behind him in fifth.
Sainz is no slouch either, and Brown believes that he will be tough to beat if given a good car.
“I think he’s going to go really well at Ferrari, I think he’s going to give Leclerc a run for his money,” Brown told Sky F1.
“I think he’ll be really good for the Ferrari mould. If they have a race-winning car I think Carlos is going to win races.”
Sainz is coming off the best season of his Formula 1 career in 2019, finishing a career-best sixth in the world championship and got his first career podium at Brazil. His stellar campaign alongside Lando Norris propelled McLaren to fourth in the constructors championship, a vast improvement on their 2018 campaign.
“He did a better job than I even thought he was going to, and obviously we wouldn’t have signed him if we didn’t think he was going to do a good job,” Brown said.
“But he really didn’t make any mistakes. If you look back I remember in Bahrain [in 2017] where he had that silly incident back in the Toro Rosso days coming out of the pits. You didn’t see any of those rookie errors which you expect from a young driver.
“Real maturity, a lot of pace – let’s not forget he had a poor start to the season, getting caught out in qualifying in Australia by [Robert] Kubica’s tyre blowout, so he didn’t really start scoring points in the first couple of races.
“He worked really well with Lando. He’s very fast, he’s a team player, I never felt nervous when Lando and Carlos were round each other in the track. Some of the other teams you see the team-mates get near each other, and they seem to have magnets.”
While many believe that Sainz will play a backup role to Leclerc, even the Monegasque driver has admitted that he isn’t guaranteed the number one status next season.