Sainz: I admire how Leclerc became stronger through adversity

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Carlos Sainz "admires" Charles Leclerc for his ability to keep improving through adversity early in his racing career.

The two drivers have struck a strong early relationship together at Ferrari since the Spaniard joined from McLaren at the end of last year.

And while part of that is driven by a desire to help push the Scuderia back to the front of the Formula 1 grid, Sainz also recognises the kind of talent Leclerc is.

“His history. He lost a friend, Jules Bianchi, then his dad. He became even stronger by overcoming tremendous dramas," he told Corriere della Sera on what makes the Monegasque special.

“That’s why I admire him so much. I’ve followed his entire career.”

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Sainz also believes Leclerc is potentially the fastest teammate he has had in F1, particularly on a single lap.

“I know I’ve been up against guys like Max [Verstappen], Nico [Hulkenberg], Lando [Norris] – who is super-fast, for me one of the fastest guys I’ve come across – and I know what I’m capable of against them,” he told The Race.

“But my respect for Charles is enormous, especially after what he managed to do with this Ferrari last year.

“That was impressive to all of us, not just you guys in the media, but for the drivers too. We knew he was doing something special on Saturday.

“I know I’m up against one of the fastest, if not the fastest, guys in qualifying so it motivates me. I’m curious to see how I stack up against him, how can I also improve myself, what can I learn from him, to see why he is that good with the Ferrari at maximising the lap.

“Until I’m up against him I will not know why he’s that good. So I’m keen to learn.”

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In return, Leclerc has also credited the attributes Sainz brings with him to Ferrari, in particular, a passion that was perhaps lacking with Sebastian Vettel.

"In recent years he has been in several teams," he told Motorsport Italy. "I think it's always interesting to get an idea of how the opponents work.

"Then I immediately perceived his great motivation. He is in his first year with Ferrari and you can see that he wants to do very well immediately, and this euphoria is contagious for the benefit of the whole team.

"I believe that for a team it is always positive to have two drivers who push and claw to get back to victory."

As for how the two drivers will compare on track, 2009 world champion believes Sainz can surprise a few people.

“I think Carlos will get closer to Leclerc very soon,” he told Sky Sports.

“I spoke to the McLaren engineers and they told me the Spanish driver is basically an engineer. He has a very intelligent approach and works closely with the team for many hours.

“That’s great, of course, because he doesn’t let his emotions get the better of him when it comes to getting the most performance out of the SF21.

“He doesn’t go over the top when he drives and we saw that throughout the weekend in Bahrain. He’s a great guy and Ferrari can boast of having a great pair of drivers.”