Sainz: Leclerc is a one of the strongest drivers on the grid

Carlos Sainz thinks that Charles Leclerc is “one of the strongest drivers on the grid” and a great “benchmark” for his own performance.

Despite Ferrari‘s struggles during 2020, Leclerc finished on the podium twice and eighth in the drivers’ championship with 98 points.

Sainz joins the Scuderia after two good seasons with McLaren but the Spaniard admitted that he will have some catching up to do during the first half of the new season in order to match his new teammate.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he told GPFans. “He had a super-strong season, he knows the team, he knows the car very well and he looks to be honestly on top of his game.

“With the combination of youth and experience he has now, I think I’ll be up against the strongest, or definitely one of the strongest drivers on the grid.

“It will be a great benchmark for me. I will obviously start with a bit of a disadvantage not knowing the car, having very little winter testing, having a day and a half to prepare.

“I will have a lot of catching up to do in the first half of the year, in the first races, as I get to know the team and the car.

“But it will be great to have him as a benchmark to see how quickly I can get up to speed and helping the team to get better.”

Sainz developed a close relationship with previous teammate Lando Norris and claimed that they developed a “healthy and competitive” partnership.

“Obviously my relationship with Lando is great and I enjoyed it a lot,” he added.

“Since the moment we met, we always had a good feeling with each other and we managed to translate that into a very healthy and competitive relationship at the track.

“We respect each other but we also kept it really competitive. This helped the team to move forward a lot. We always looked out for each other on track and brought a fair number of points for the team.

“That’s exactly what I want to carry over into Ferrari. I’ve always got on well with my team-mates. It’s never been an issue for me.

“I already get on very well with Charles and I have no problems with that. I’m sure I can also have a good relationship.”