Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen are ferociously battling it out for the world title with two races of the season remaining but Carlos Sainz reckons there is a driver on the grid who is even tougher to face during Saturday qualifying.
Hamilton and Verstappen often start of pole position as they have quicker cars than most of their competitors, giving them the advantage when trying to set the fastest lap.
Ferrari are fighting to be the best of the rest with Sainz regularly qualifying in the top six (nine times this season).
However, he feels that team-mate Charles Leclerc is the best qualifier on the grid as the 24-year-old has twice secured pole position this term.
“I think Charles is the best in qualifying,” Sainz told GP Racing magazine. “He is one of the greatest, if not the greatest present in F1 today.
“I’m only realising this now as I see him expressing himself at very high levels. I’m not just talking about his speed, but also the fact he has a very good work ethic.
“He is good at working with the team and to be honest, he has a lot of strengths that make him such a strong driver.
“It’s a challenge I enjoy and I know there’s probably nobody more talented than Charles on a dry lap in a Ferrari.”
Leclerc leads Sainz by six-and-a-half points in the Drivers’ Championship and the pair will be allowed to race each other in the final two races of the season.
“There will not be a number one and a number two driver even when we will fight for the Championship,” said Ferrari ambassador Marc Gene.
“The important thing is that it keeps being like that and I’m sure it will keep being like that because of Ferrari’s DNA.”
Leclerc damaged his chassis in Qatar last time out so needs to take a new one ahead of Saudi Arabia.
“The chassis will certainly be repaired,” team principal Mattia Binotto explained.
“If that will be the chassis that will race, I don’t think so at that stage of the season but I think what we discovered, there was not time to repair it and the chassis we fit onto the car was the same specification to the one he had.
“I don’t think there is a preference between the two.
“The one that will be repaired will very likely be the spare for the rest of the season.”