Ex-Ferrari driver Felipe Massa rates Carlos Sainz highly, a driver who he believes has proven himself ever since debuting.
As a graduate of the Red Bull junior team, Sainz made his Formula 1 debut with the Toro Rosso team back in 2015.
That year he was part of a new all-rookie line-up for the team, but the driver on the other side of the garage was no easy task, he being Max Verstappen.
Skip forward to 2021 and both drivers are now established names on the Formula 1 grid, and for the first time Verstappen is very much in a title battle as he leads the Red Bull charge against Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.
Sainz too has made a very positive start to life with his new team Ferrari, securing his first podium finish in red after only five races with P2 at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Massa is not surprised though, after all, even in his debut season Sainz was able to hang with Verstappen at Toro Rosso. So the quality has always been there.
“I have held him in high regard since his first year in Formula 1,” Massa told Sky Italia.
“He was always on the beat, even in his first year when he had to compete alongside Max Verstappen. Even then he did well compared to Max. We all know Max, is Max. Still, Sainz was able to fight with him then.”
Sainz will of course harbour hopes of wins and championships to come in his Ferrari future, with the team targeting a sustained return to the front of the grid in 2022.
And now that Sainz has fitted into the team so well, Massa said the Spaniard must keep his “faith” in the target of success.
“Sainz fits well in the team and he must now continue to dream of the best possible result,” Massa explained.
“As a driver, you can’t lose faith in the really big success.”
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto has declared himself happy on multiple occasions with Sainz’s pace and also his conduct on and off the track.
As well as praising his leadership abilities, Binotto also has been pleased to see Sainz push team-mate Charles Leclerc hard, a driver who Massa says has a “great future” in Formula 1.
“In Charles Leclerc he has an excellent team-mate who has a great future ahead of him,” Massa stated.