Former Ferrari development driver Pedro de la Rosa has weighed up the two Spanish F1 drivers’ prospects for 2021 – and thinks Carlos Sainz will be on the podium before Fernando Alonso.
Both Spaniards are experiencing a change of scenery for this season. Alonso, of course, has returned to the Formula 1 grid after two years away, joining Alpine who have been rebranded from the Renault team with which he won the World Championship in 2005 and 2006.
Carlos Sainz, meanwhile, has moved to Ferrari from McLaren in a switch that offers prestige but not necessarily, immediately at least, the chance of achieving better results than he has had so far.
In terms of the duo’s prospects for both the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix and in the World Championship standings, the bookmakers find Alonso and Sainz difficult to separate.
Ex-F1 driver De la Rosa, a pundit on DAZN who have taken over broadcasting of F1 in Spain this year, agrees with that assessment – but eventually plumped for one over the other.
Asked which of the pair will be on the podium first, De La Rosa, quoted by Mundo Deportivo, replied: “Whatever I say, one of the two will get mad at me. Fernando has already thrown it at me saying I always screw up, but I will try to be as objective as possible – I think it will be Carlos. I don’t want to put pressure on him, but being at Ferrari is very big. I think Carlos will get more than one podium this season and probably before Fernando. It would be normal.”
Indeed, De la Rosa, who knows what it feels like to finish on the F1 podium having done so himself for McLaren at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix, thinks it would reflect badly on Ferrari if Carlos Sainz finishes behind Alonso in the Championship.
“Carlos is at Ferrari, a team that must fight for the World Championship every year,” added the 50-year-old, who started 104 F1 races, his other teams being Arrows, Jaguar, Sauber and HRT – “On the other hand, Fernando is in a team that has fought for the World Championship from time to time. I think if Carlos is not ahead of Fernando at the end of the World Championship it is a bad sign, it is that Ferrari has made a mistake again. I am very optimistic that Formula 1 is a cyclical sport. We have had the Red Bull cycle, the Mercedes cycle and sooner or later the cycle will reach Ferrari again. I think Carlos is at the right time in the right team.” – he concluded.