Carlos Sainz could match and even beat Charles Leclerc at Ferrari, according to Ferrari's test driver, Marc Gene. Gene believes Charles Leclerc will have the edge early in the season but the Spaniard will eventually close the gap and beat the Monegasque in the second half of the season.
When asked about the favorite within the team, Gene said:
“Leclerc starts as favorite because he knows the team much better."
Regarding the driver dynamic within the team, he said:
“I can guarantee you that there is no number one and number two because it doesn’t make any sense. We know internally and Carlos also knows that Leclerc has an advantage from the start.
“From here on, I am very sure that Carlos will be ahead of Leclerc on some occasions this year. I expect this more from the second half of the season.”
Marc Gene's involvement in Carlos Sainz's selection
Gene revealed he played a pivotal role in Ferrari picking Carlos Sainz Jr. to partner Charles Leclerc for the 2021 season.
"I was a little involved in this decision because part of my job is also to work with the drivers and a detailed study was made not only of the previous year. In my case, for example, I analyzed his first races in Formula 1. He has been racing a lot. He has more than 100." “You make some statistics, but Mattia Binotto is the one who really decides."
When asked about the Spaniard's standout qualities, Gene said:
"One of Carlos Sainz's great virtues is his maturity, his mental strength, and that he is a calm driver even in extreme situations.”
Carlos Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc are the first Ferrari lineup since Massa and Raikkonen in 2007 to not feature a world champion. Sebastian Vettel left the team at the end of the 2020 season without winning a championship with the Scuderia.