Despite reports to the contrary, Carlos Sainz insists he hasn’t joined Ferrari as its “second driver”.
Next year Sainz will move over to Ferrari, signing as Charles Leclerc’s new team-mate and replacing the outgoing Sebastian Vettel.
Sainz has signed a two-year deal for 2021 and 2022 while Leclerc was a deal that runs until the end of 2024.
This has led to speculation that Ferrari considers Leclerc to be its future while Sainz will be his number two.
Speaking to Auto Motor und Sport, an unnamed Ferrari source confirmed just this.
“In the future we will play 4-4-1-1 instead of 4-4-2,” he said.
The source added that Ferrari need a clear up number one to ensure the drivers don’t take points off each other.
“If Hamilton and Rosberg had been driving in the same team again in 2017, it could have backfired on Mercedes,” he continued.
“We had a car that was good enough to benefit from it.”
Sainz, though, is adamant he is not Leclerc’s support staff.
In an interview with COPE and Radio Marca, he made it clear that while his contract says the team comes first, it does not lay out driver status.
“I have not signed anything that says second driver,” Omnisport quotes the Spaniard as having said.
“In my contract it says, as in all those I have signed, that the team is above the driver, but does not put anything second or support from anyone.
“What I know is that I will give everything for Ferrari and I will give everything they need, above all, to try to win. I do not care about the colour of the car.
“I treat all drivers equally, we are all rivals and we must go for all.”
He added: “If there is a complicated situation, I would make the right decision, don’t worry.”
The McLaren driver is convinced he will be able to cope with the pressure of racing in red, something that not everyone is up to.
“I know that at Ferrari the pressure is higher,” he said.
“With thick skin you have to beat the Formula One teams. Ferrari is a step up with more pressure, but I think I am prepared to do it.”