Sainz hopes to repeat Norris "special relationship" at Ferrari F1 team

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Carlos Sainz Jr hopes he will be able to replicate his “special relationship” with ex-McLaren Formula 1 team-mate Lando Norris alongside Charles Leclerc at Ferrari.

Sainz spent two years racing alongside Norris at McLaren, but left the team at the end of last year to join Ferrari for the 2021 season.

Sainz and Norris enjoyed a successful partnership both on- and off-track.

As well as helping lift McLaren to third in the constructors’ championship last year, marking its best finish since 2012, the pair were close friends away from the race track.

Sainz said that while it was sometimes difficult to get on so well with your team-mate due to the fierce competition, he felt it led to greater openness and a strong relationship that he hoped could be replicated with new Ferrari team-mate Leclerc.

“It makes it difficult in one way, because [Norris] is also very fast, and very easy-going, so you need to handle the two things,” Sainz told Autosport.

“But it’s also really enjoyable to have someone who after qualifying or a race, you are either happy or sad because he has beaten you or you have beaten him, but still coming to the race with a full open mind, not trying to hide anything from anyone.

“You are being sincere and honest to your opposition, to your team-mate, shaking his hand to congratulate him and recognise the job he has done and vice-versa.

“It’s something that I think is a special relationship, and something that I’m willing to keep having in the future.

“It makes the working environment and the team a lot less under pressure.

“It just makes everyone’s life a lot easier, and the team can move forward a lot quicker and in a better way.”

Sainz has replaced four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari for the 2021 season, marking an end to the sometimes frosty relationship between Leclerc and Vettel at Maranello.

Tensions flared through their first season as team-mates in 2019, most notably at the Brazilian Grand Prix when they collided on-track, forcing both to retire from the race.

Sainz is set to complete his first running alongside Leclerc next week when Ferrari holds a private test at Fiorano using its 2018-spec car.

Discussing his relationship with Leclerc prior to linking up with Ferrari, Sainz said that they got on well and had already been talking about plans for 2021.

“I would lie if I said I’ve not talked to Charles,” Sainz said.

“Of course I have. Of course I am paying attention that what happens over there, and asking him questions now and then.

“Until you get inside the team, it’s difficult to really understand and really tricky to know what is going on.

“My relationship with Charles actually is very good. I expect to get on well with him in the future.”

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