Sainz confident of succeeding Vettel at Ferrari after replacing Alonso in 2019

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Carlos Sainz is sure he can succeed Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari in 2021 after replacing Fernando Alonso at McLaren last year.

When the Italian team decided it would part ways with the four-time world champion after five years at the end of this season, the Spaniard quickly emerged as their top choice, despite other options such as Daniel Ricciardo.

That followed what was a breakout year for Sainz in 2019, as he finished sixth in the Drivers' standings and claimed his first F1 podium in his first year at the Woking-based team.

Joining Ferrari, however, is another step up for Carlos, who will now have to deal with the pressure and attention that comes with the Scuderia, but he is sure he is up to the task.

"It's going to be very difficult to succeed Seb but at the same time, I was in McLaren succeeding Fernando Alonso, a two-time world champion with a lot of experience also, and I could do the job so at least the confidence is high," Sainz told AFP.

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"The atmosphere is different and for sure I am going to realise at some point that there are more people watching me because I am in Ferrari next year but I don't mind it.

"Last year, sometimes, no one saw me on the TV! So I don't mind having a bit more attention, I am not going to complain, but I was also surprised to see how much Ferrari was watching me."

As the 2020 season got underway in Austria last week, however, Sainz was largely overshadowed by teammate Lando Norris, who claimed his first podium in third.

But the Spaniard has reassured McLaren there is no risk of him slacking.

"I think it's going to be a smooth transition, very easy going," Sainz told Natalie Pinkham's In The Pink podcast.

"Everyone at McLaren can be 100 per cent sure that until the last lap of the last race, I'm going to be a McLaren driver pushing flat-out and being fully focused on the McLaren job.

"When that's over I will focus on Ferrari, but I don't want one thing to interfere with the other. I am fully committed to this project, to this team, I want to finish on a high and I'm going to give my absolute best.

"Then there will be time to start thinking about the next season with Ferrari, which for sure will have its challenges, it's not going to be easy at all, but at least I need to try and finish on a high with McLaren."