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‘Everybody knows his worth’ – Norris and Leclerc respond to suggestion Sainz is ‘underrated’ with 2025 future unknown

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Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris have both heaped praise on Carlos Sainz after the Spaniard delivered a statement performance to advertise his services for 2025 by charging to victory in last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.

Sainz entered the season fresh from the announcement that Lewis Hamilton will replace him at Ferrari next year, ending a four-year stint with the Scuderia and meaning he has been forced to look elsewhere on the grid to continue his career.

READ MORE: ‘Life is crazy sometimes’ – Sainz overjoyed after ‘rollercoaster’ ride from hospital bed to Australian GP victory

Having started his campaign with a fine podium finish in Bahrain, Sainz sat out the following round in Saudi Arabia due to appendicitis and subsequent surgery, but he returned to action just a fortnight later in Melbourne to challenge for pole position and spectacularly take the win.

Despite that missed race, Sainz sits fourth in the drivers’ standings after the opening three rounds, just 11 points off leader Max Verstappen, with former team mate Norris and current partner Leclerc talking up his efforts.

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Smooth operation: Sainz's incredible recovery from hospital bed to race win in Australia

“I think everybody knows Carlos’ worth in the paddock,” said Leclerc. “He’s one of the highest-rated drivers in the paddock and he’s been extremely strong every time he was in a Formula 1 car. He has showed it multiple times, so I don’t think he’s underrated for that.

“That’s why I’ve said many times that I’m not too worried about his future, because I’m sure that many, many Team Principals are… he doesn’t say it, but for sure they are speaking with him! And I’m sure he will have many opportunities. He’ll just have to make the best choice for his career.”

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Norris added: “There’s no reason anyone should think he’s underrated. I think for people who know him, know what he’s capable of doing, know his effort level, his approach and dedication to wanting to be one of the best, exactly like he’s proved today, and over the last couple of weeks...

“I’m sure you have plenty of drivers who probably wouldn’t have tried as hard and dedicated so much of their time and effort to trying to recover and get back in the race car. But for the people who know what he’s capable of doing, you would never ever say he’s underrated.

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‘I guess this will help me get a job for next year’ jokes Sainz after victory in Melbourne

“Of course, results are always a bit of a point to show and people on the outside easily judge things from what you see on TV, but when you’ve worked with him, when you know what he’s capable of doing… When things click, they click very well. I would say all year, he’s proved to be a step up from maybe what he has been last year.”

Sitting alongside the pair in the post-race press conference at Albert Park, Sainz smiled: “I guess I agree here with my two favourite team mates! There are some kind words there, but I agree with them.

READ MORE: Sainz keen to ‘maximise’ final year with Ferrari as he jokes he’s ‘still jobless’ for 2025

“I think people that know me or have shared a team with me, or people that have worked with me, know me and I don’t feel underrated by people that know about this sport. Then other people that maybe don’t have an insight and don’t know as much about this sport, if they want to underrate me, I’m fine with that.

“I don’t care [about it], honestly, but I care about the people that know the sport well and about my team mates, the people that have seen my data, seen how I work, seen my speed, and that’s the thing I care about, and I don’t feel underrated by them.”

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