Carlos Sainz believes there are “seven or eight” drivers on the current F1 grid good enough to win the title.
Max Verstappen broke Lewis Hamilton’s run of four consecutive World Championship wins in 2021, prevailing in a titanic battle with the Mercedes man on the final lap of the final race.
Many felt the Dutchman was good enough to win a title before the season and he proved that was indeed the case the first time he had been given strong enough machinery.
Sainz was not surprised by his former team-mate and believes there are seven or eight drivers on the grid in total that could become World Champion if they had a top car.
“It’s not strange to me because you could see it coming from the first races, Max had those options,” the Ferrari driver told as.com.
“I firmly believe there are seven or eight world champions on the grid right now. Whoever gets the car will be the champion.
“Although what Max has done has been special, the level at which he and Hamilton have competed is spectacular.
“I don’t know if it’s an exact number but there are many drivers with the potential.”
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More of that group than just Hamilton and Verstappen could be given such a car next year, with the new regulations coming into play offering every team a big chance to climb the pecking order.
With the progress they made in 2021, the resources they have and the fact Red Bull and Mercedes focused less on their 2022 cars last year than they did, Ferrari are widely fancied to return to the front of the pack.
While Sainz hopes that is the case though, he does not think the two front-runners will let their guard down.
“I want to think so, but my head tells me these teams are so good they are capable of doing both at the same time and they will be at the top, for sure,” he said.
He does, however, believe there is a chance more teams will challenge them at the front. Either that, or one will be dominant.
“I imagine two extremes,” he added.
“A team that nails it, suddenly, and wins with a serious advantage. Or the other extreme, which is a completely even season, and that is what I want.
“This year we saw the drivers making a difference. There were four cars capable of fighting for the World Championship and it is the drivers who decided the rest.”
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