Former F1 team owner Giancarlo Minardi says Ferrari should have chosen Antonio Giovinazzi over Carlos Sainz for 2021 and privileged an Italian driver.
Sainz will move from McLaren to the Scuderia at the end of the year and replace the out-going Sebastian Vettel.
While Giovinazzi was an option for the House of Maranello, Scuderia boss Mattia Binotto considered that its protégé was not ready to assume the responsibilities associated with the status of being a Ferrari driver.
But Minardi argues that Giovinazzi would have represented a good option for the team and an opportunity to strengthen its Italian spirit at a time of suffering for the country.
"I would have given Giovinazzi a chance," Minardi told Italy's Radiobox. "It would have also protected the feeling of Italianism at this historical time."
However, Minardi - whose eponymous team competed in 340 Grands Prix - admits to being a big fan of Sainz whom he actually recommended to Ferrari in the past.
"I must also say that I have always believed in Carlos Sainz," said the 72-year-old former team boss.
“Seven, eight or nine years ago, when he hadn’t yet arrived in Formula 1 and was racing in the World Series by Renault, I recommended him to the Ferrari Driver Academy because I liked him very much.
"I presented Carlos Sainz as an option to Ferrari again when Kimi Raikkonen was leaving because he is a fast driver who brings the car home, delivers a lot of points and he has a particular character."
Interestingly, Minardi sees common traits between Sainz and the last Italian driver to win for Ferrari, the late Michele Alboreto.
"In the 1980s I introduced [to Ferrari] a driver similar to him, called Michele Alboreto, and I told them that given his type of character and the way he presented himself, he had all the requirements to be a Prancing Horse driver.
"Being one isn’t easy. So I have to say that although I won’t go into the details of the choice between Giovinazzi and Sainz – it is a decision that I ultimately approve."