Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto says Carlos Sainz proved through the course of the 2020 campaign why he was an “obvious” signing for its Formula 1 team.
Ferrari opted not to renew with Sebastian Vettel and instead recruited Sainz on a two-year contract, concluding the deal in May 2020, before the start of the postponed season.
Sainz went on to finish sixth in the Drivers’ Championship, scoring a career-best second at Monza, and was influential in McLaren claiming third spot in the Constructors’ battle.
Speaking alongside Sainz at Ferrari’s 2021 team launch Binotto explained that “obviously before we signed [Carlos] we made a lot of analysis.
“We looked at the past seasons, we looked at the way he was progressing – not only at his latest season  but generally speaking since he started in F1 how he’d progressed.
“I think we were aware that he was a very good driver, a strong racer, very consistent in the races, so looking again at the Constructors’ Championship we thought he would have been a great team-mate for Charles [Leclerc].
“I think that then if we look at the last year, 2020, by the end of the season everyone somehow congratulated us for the choice.
“I think that to make that congratulations at the end [of the season] would have been easier for everyone, but I think from the time that we signed eventually it was more obvious.
“I’m very happy for the choice, I think Carlos all through the 2020 season again proved that he is the right driver for Ferrari and being team-mate of Charles.”
Sainz has already driven for Ferrari during a private test day at Fiorano and in conjunction with Pirelli as part of a tyre test at Jerez.
Formula 1 has slashed its official pre-season test allocation from six days to just three but Binotto reckons Sainz will soon be able to get fully comfortable within his new surroundings.
“We know that for Carlos that [limited time] will be a challenge,” said Binotto. “I have to say Carlos has progressed very well, he’s very well integrated.
“I think his feedback from the car to the engineers has been good. I think that his speed on the track is good and somehow developing today.
“It will take some more time so we are not expecting him to be fully integrated 100 per cent at the start of the season but again his single day will be important.
“I will believe he will be ready for the start of the season, if not 100 per cent then very close because at the end, he’s not a rookie. He’s a professional driver, he’s got some F1 seasons on his back so I am pretty sure that he will manage very well the situation and be ready.”