May 13, 2020 / 5:40 AM / 24 days ago

Verstappen tips Sainz over Ricciardo for Vettel's seat

Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 12, 2020 McLaren’s Carlos Sainz arriving to the Circuit REUTERS/Loren Elliott/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - Red Bull’s Max Verstappen reckons Spaniard Carlos Sainz is more likely to replace Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari next year than Daniel Ricciardo.

Ferrari announced on Tuesday that four times world champion Vettel would be leaving them at the end of the season.

McLaren’s Sainz and Renault’s Ricciardo, considered the leading contenders for one of the most coveted seats in the sport, were team mates of Dutch 22-year-old Verstappen at Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) and Red Bull respectively.

“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 in an Instagram Q&A with former racer David Coulthard for team sponsor 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,” added Verstappen, whose contract runs to the end of 2023.

Asked whether he thought Vettel’s replacement would be the Italian or Spanish-sounding name, Verstappen replied: “I think it’s not going to be the Italian-sounding name... it’s just a guess, we’ll have to wait and see.”

Both Ricciardo and Sainz, already on his third team at the age of 25 after a stint at Renault before McLaren, are both out of contract at the end of the season.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis

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