Max Verstappen has tipped Carlos Sainz to beat his former Red Bull Formula 1 teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the race to replace Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari for 2021.

Ferrari announced on Tuesday morning that Vettel would be leaving the team at the end of the season after both parties failed to agree terms over a contract extension.

Vettel’s departure has blown open the 2021 driver market and resulted in a number of drivers being linked to his vacated seat at Ferrari, with Sainz and Ricciardo understood to be the leading contenders.

Why is Sebastian Vettel leaving Ferrari? |

“The speculation was going on a bit, is he going to continue with Ferrari or not – well today it’s out, he’s not,” Verstappen said as he reacted to the development during an Instagram Q&A with former F1 driver David Coulthard for Puma.

“I guess also very soon we’ll find out who the replacement is going to be. It’s definitely not me, I can tell you. I’m at Red Bull. I saw some questions coming along if I was going to Ferrari, but I’m not.

“It is what it is. Somebody else gets an opportunity to drive now for Ferrari, and of course 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.” 

When Coulthard asked Verstappen which driver he thought would get the Ferrari seat, hinting between Ricciardo and Sainz, Verstappen added: “I think it’s not going to be the Italian sounding name.

“Let’s see. At the end of the day, it’s just a guess. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Wide-ranging reports across Italian, Spanish and German media outlets on Tuesday evening suggested Sainz has emerged as the favourite for the Ferrari seat, adding the move could be made official within days.