Sainz: Leclerc is 'one of the greatest' qualifiers in F1

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari SF-21. 19.11.2021 Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Qatar Grand Prix, Doha, Qatar
ยฉ XPB 

Forget Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz believes that his current Ferrari team mate Charles Leclerc is one of if not the greatest qualifying talent at work in Formula 1 today.

In terms of head-to-head performance on Saturdays, Leclerc currently leads Sainz 13-7 in qualifying in 2021 and the Spaniard says that his team mate is definitely a challenge when it comes to straight speed trials.

โ€œI think Charles is the best in qualifying,โ€ he told GP Racing magazine recently. โ€œHe is one of the greatest, if not the greatest present in F1 today.

Sainz admitted that he's only come to fully appreciate Leclerc's talent now that they were working close-up together "at very high levels" in the same garage.

"Iโ€™m not just talking about his speed, but also the fact he has a very good work ethic," he continued. โ€œHe is good at working with the team and to be honest, he has a lot of strengths that make him such a strong driver.

"I know thereโ€™s probably nobody more talented than Charles on a dry lap in a Ferrari," he said, adding that this made him the perfect milestone to measure himself up against. "โ€œItโ€™s a challenge I enjoy.

Despite their difference in qualifying outcomes, Sainz compares well with Leclerc when it comes to race performances and points.

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari with team mate Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari. 13.11.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo

Sainz has finished in the top ten in every race since the Styrian GP, and is currently just behind Leclerc in seventh place in the drivers championship with just 6.5 points between the pair.

Their combined efforts have boosted Ferrari into third place in the constructors standings, having pulled out a comfortable margin over rivals McLaren in recent outings.

When Sainz joined the team at the start of the season there were fears he would be used as a 'number two driver' to Leclerc but that's not proved to be the case and Sainz said recently he already feels โ€œcompletely at homeโ€ at Maranello.

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto confirmed recently that there would be no team orders in the remaining races, with the pair free to race on level terms in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

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