New option for Carlos Sainz? Andretti hails Ferrari star ‘World Champion material’

Oliver Harden
Carlos Sainz on the podium at the 2024 Australian Grand Prix with a prominent Ferrari logo alongside him

Carlos Sainz is the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race since the start of the 2023 season

F1 legend Mario Andretti believes Carlos Sainz is up there with Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc as “World Champion material” following his victory at the Australian Grand Prix.

Sainz received a blow on the eve of the F1 2024 season when Ferrari announced the signing of Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes, leaving the Spaniard currently without a seat for next year.

Andretti F1 praise for Carlos Sainz

Despite the uncertainty surrounding his future, Sainz produced a stunning performance to win in Melbourne last weekend – just two weeks after missing the Saudi Arabian GP with appendicitis.

His latest victory, following his triumph in Singapore last year, means Sainz remains the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race since the start of the 2023 campaign.

The 29-year-old has been heavily linked with a move to Sauber ahead of Audi’s rebrand of the Swiss-based team in 2026, with seats also available at Mercedes, Red Bull and Aston Martin for 2025. recommends

Follow’s WhatsApp channel for all the F1 breaking news!

The F1 2024 Drivers’ Championship standings without Max Verstappen

Andretti’s son Michael has fought hard to gain an F1 entry over recent years, having the team’s application approved by governing body the FIA last October before being knocked back by the sport’s commercial rights holder in January.

And the former Ferrari driver, who was crowned World Champion in 1978, was impressed by the team’s performance in Australia regardless of Max Verstappen’s early exit – and believes Sainz has what it takes to win the title.

He told Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport: “I saw the race, great. Congratulations to Ferrari. I’m always happy to see a red win, let alone a one-two like in Australia.

“This victory is nothing given away, even though Verstappen went out immediately.

“In particular Sainz had a great pace from the start and had a beautiful race.”

Asked if it is a surprise that Sainz, not Leclerc, has claimed Ferrari’s most recent wins, Andretti said: “Not at all.

“I have always said that both Carlos and Charles are drivers capable of winning races and even a Championship.

“They are both World Championship material, we have seen it and we continue to see it.”

Having been impressed by Ferrari’s improvements with tyre management and strategy calls, Andretti is backing the Scuderia for more success in 2024.

Asked if the team will win again this season, he said: “Absolutely yes, Ferrari has come close.

“This was a feat built well from the start. It will be interesting to watch the rest of the season, but I have seen good signs.

“At the Cavallino this time they did everything right, with the tyres and also with the strategies, two weak points in the past.

“Results like that are real, concrete. It was no accident: as a pace in free practice and qualifying, Ferrari was there.

“They did everything right from Friday and it was good to see Carlos at 100 per cent after the operation that had put him out of action in Saudi Arabia.

“He and Leclerc are there now, they can take on anyone.”

Read next: Ranked: The five most underrated drivers on the F1 grid for the 2025 market