McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl believes Ferrari has poached a driver in Carlos Sainz who has "everything he needs" to become one of the best in Formula 1.
Sainz ended a two-year partnership with McLaren at the end of last year and finished sixth in the drivers' standings in both seasons with the team.
Last year, alongside Lando Norris, Sainz helped to propel McLaren into third in the constructors' championship, recording its best placing since 2012 when Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button drove for the team.
Speaking of his former driver, Seidl said: “What was impressive for me, not having worked with Carlos before, was to see how he approached race weekends, how focused he was during weekends, how he got into this zone and then simply pulling it off when it mattered, both in qualifying and the race.
“He is very strong when it comes to executing the race. He is very strong in giving the overview, finding the right balance also between risk and reward on track.
"You can see what he did last year, the first laps he did, seeing how many positions he could make up many, many times on the first lap.
“The overtaking moves he did, the way he managed the tyres together with his race engineer – it was a big challenge – was impressive.
“I think he has everything he needs to become a top driver in Formula 1. He has moved now to Ferrari after a two-year stint with us so we wish him all the best there and, as I have always said, we will give it our all to make sure we beat him on track.”
In the year before Sainz joined the team, McLaren had started its return to form after enduring several difficult years alongside then-power unit supplier Honda.
Seidl added: "He came to the team after a really difficult period for the team and then really from the first outing onwards, his test in Abu Dhabi two years ago, he gave it all for us both inside the car as a driver but also outside the car in terms of the working relationship and also attitude he had towards the engineers.
“I think he was very important when it came to giving input regarding the development direction we had to take with the car so he was a very important asset.
“In the end, the points he collected with us in these two years speak for itself and the results we could achieve as a team and in the constructors’ championship."
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