Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto believes Carlos Sainz can become World Champion in the future, but not in 2021.
But it has been made clear following the decision that Sainz is being signed to compete at Ferrari, not to be Charles Leclerc’s No.2.
And Binotto believes that Sainz can be World Champion, but will need time to get comfortable with the team first.
“I think the first year will be more complicated because he must first understand the car and the team,” Binotto told Marca.
“That is why we have not signed a one-year contract with him, but I know he’s very fast, so he can definitely be world champion.”
But Binotto also confirmed that Leclerc has a special place at Ferrari, and they even consulted him over hiring Sainz.
“It is important to me that he is involved in these decisions, to have his feedback,” he said.
“Charles is our investment, part of the future of our team, so he was aware, yes.
“We have invested a lot in Charles, yes, many years, from F3, F2 and now F1, where the process continues and we hope that this year will be even stronger than the past and even stronger in the future, that’s why we renewed his contract for so many years [until 2024].
“Charles is a driver that Ferrari can count on for the future trying to develop as much as possible and that he can become the strongest driver in the history of Formula 1.”
Binotto said he expects the Leclerc/Sainz relationship to all run “smoothly” and the track will decide who is No.1 and No.2.
“I don’t think there will be rough moments between the two, everything will go smoothly, and if there is one, it is my job [to mediate], but you have to be positive,” he explained.
“The first thing is to have two good drivers, team spirit is what is important, making sure that Ferrari comes first. And I think it will be the track itself that dictates who is first and who is second.
“It has always been this way even in the time of Michael Schumacher, who started every year at the same level as his team-mate, but in the third race it was clear who was the first.”