Carlos Sainz reported favourite to land Ferrari drive after Vettel exit

Ferrari have chosen Carlos Sainz as the driver to replace Sebastian Vettel next season, reports in Spain said on Tuesday.

It was announced earlier in the day that four-time world champion Vettel would be leaving the Italian team at the end of the delayed 2020 campaign.

That sparked speculation regarding a host of drivers, including six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who has frequently been linked with Ferrari.

However, with Charles Leclerc having already done enough to suggest he can be Ferrari's number one driver, a superstar substitute for Vettel always looked unlikely.

Sainz may become such a star in the future, with the 25-year-old Spaniard having made his Formula 1® debut as a 20-year-old in 2015 and gained experience with the Torro Rosso, Renault and McLaren teams.

Widespread reports in Spain have suggested a deal to take Sainz from McLaren to Ferrari is close to being agreed.

Marca reported there was initial contact with Sainz last year which increased over recent weeks once Vettel's intentions became apparent to Ferrari. The Spanish newspaper said a two-year deal for Sainz was anticipated.

Red Bull's young star Max Verstappen would not be surprised should Ferrari plump for Sainz.

Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo have looked like the most realistic Ferrari targets, and Verstappen appeared to suggest it may be the man from Madrid who gets the drive.

Speaking to David Coulthard in an event hosted on Puma's motorsport Instagram page, Verstappen said of the big Vettel news: "It's what it is. Somebody else gets an opportunity now to drive for Ferrari.

"It's a great team and I'm sure they will make the right decision about the next driver. Let's see what's going to happen there."

Asked by Coulthard if he expected "an Italian-sounding name or someone with a Spanish name" to get the nod, Verstappen said: "I think it's not going to be the Italian-sounding name, but let's see."

Verstappen and Sainz were team-mates at Torro Rosso in 2015, but the Belgian stressed his answer to Coulthard's question was "just a guess".

Sainz finished sixth in last season's F1® drivers' championship. His father, also named Carlos Sainz, is a former rally world champion.

Should he make the move, Sainz would be replacing a multiple F1® world champion for the second time, having joined McLaren following the departure of Fernando Alonso.

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