Former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa believes Carlos Sainz has the ability to carve out success for himself at the Scuderia.
Sainz’s move to Ferrari will come after six years of honing his skills in F1’s midfield with Toro Rosso, Renault and McLaren.
Scuderia boss Mattia Binotto said last week that Sainz’s hiring was a gamble of sorts for the team, but Massa, who spent eight at the House of Maranello, believes the bet can generate a handsome payout.
Button ‘shocked’ by Vettel exit from Ferrari
“I think so, it will depend on him,” the Brazilian told Spain’s AS. “We have to wait and see his first year there, but he’s got talent and ability.
“It’s important to know that Ferrari is not having a good time, they have to return to who they were long ago, because they haven’t won a title since 2008 although they came close with Alonso.
“They want to improve, and I think that working with two young drivers is interesting.”
Massa says there has never been any doubt about Sainz’s talent since his promotion to the big time in 2015. But the former F1 driver says the Spaniard can now rely on a significant amount of experience as well.
“He was already in his first year with Toro Rosso alongside [Max] Verstappen, it was a close battle,” said Massa.
“He has shown over the years that he has grown and gained experience, and last year he had a very important season at McLaren.
“I think he can do a fantastic job [at Ferrari], he’s experienced, he’s smart, he doesn’t fail and he can impress in a big team like Ferrari, as he’s been demonstrating.”
Still, Sainz will have some big shoes to fill at Ferrari when Sebastian Vettel relinquishes his seat at the end of the year. But Massa draws a parallel between the Spaniard’s situation and the one encountered by Leclerc in 2019.
“There is no team where there’s as much pressure as there is at Ferrari,” said the eleven-time Grand Prix winner.
“This is not easy for a driver, the first year you have to understand how it works, but I think Carlos will do it quickly, just like Leclerc did.
“Leclerc got there as number two, he showed that he could be a driver who could win, and things changed. It can be the same [for Sainz]. The team has to give the same opportunity to both.”
Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers
Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter