2009 World Champion Jenson Button has shunned Ferrari for choosing Carlos Sainz to replace the departing Sebastian Vettel, believing the team has not selected a perfect ‘number two’ driver but rather one that could likely upset the team’s atmosphere.
Since the promotion of Charles Leclerc to the Maranello outfit last season, the young Monégasque quickly rose to a performance level that frightened team leader Vettel.
Leclerc ultimately outscored his more experienced teammate in points, wins and pole positions, undoubtedly a catalyst in Vettel’s decision to move elsewhere.
With Sainz, despite having five seasons under his belt, the 25-year-old has joined the Scuderia knowingly aware the team will look to put Leclerc in the number one position.
But speaking with Sky Sports F1, Button believes that Sainz would not be easily restrained, and his pursuit of the world championship could upset both Leclerc and the team.
“If Binotto chose Carlos because he thinks he’s a good driver, but won’t challenge Charles [Leclerc], then he’s making a mistake”, Button said during the Sky Sports F1 vodcast.
“[Sainz] is a winner, just like his father.
“He wants to get the best out of it and become a champion. He’s chosen the wrong person if he wants a good atmosphere on the team.”
Button also voiced his disappointment in how Ferrari opted to both terminate their contract with Vettel and promote Sainz well before any cars have hit the track.
And despite their worrying lack in performance during pre-season testing, Button says Ferrari and Vettel could have already won a handful of races by now.
“We haven’t seen a Formula 1 car on the track for months and to make driver choices now is very unusual.
“Normally you do that halfway through a season, because then you can see how someone is performing during that year.
“Vettel could have won four or five races by now and then I think they would have made a very different decision”.
While information concerning whether it was Vettel or Ferrari who pushed the other to end their relationship remains shrouded in mystery, Button says it would be outrageous to suggest that the Italian squad would have wanted to see their star driver leave without having claimed a world title.
“If he was pushed, for me it’s madness.
“I think he showed his speed last year. He had a tough moment in the season when Charles was performing really well, and I think that hurt him a little bit mentally. But he came back really strong, and he’s just somebody you would definitely choose to put in your car if you had an F1 team.
“There must be more to it. I don’t know if Ferrari are going down the route of not wanting two number one drivers or what but it’s a really strange choice for me and I’m still shocked that Sebastian [won’t be] in a red car.”