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  • Writer's pictureToni Sokolov

Where does Carlos Sainz go from here?

Carlos Sainz winning it Singapore GP 203
Credit: Ferrari Media Centre

With the news of Lewis Hamilton's arrival in the Maranello-based team from 2025 seas, Scuderia Ferrari's Carlos Sainz is currently out of the racing seat after this season. There is no doubt that he will stay in F1 and that he will have plenty of options from other teams, especially with contracts expiring after 2024 for 12 drivers (13 including Sainz)! 


Carlos is a good driver that was able to challenge Leclerc in their 3-year partnership and even though he doesn't have the raw speed of Charles Leclerc in qualifying, he wasn't that much off of him on most occasions. He does have the advantage in his racing IQ, strategy decision-making, and overall race management that Charles still lacks in his portfolio to be a more complete driver.


What will be his options? Let's dive in!


Mercedes: 

This seems like a straight-up swap between Ferrari and Mercedes. Sainz would be a great fit for the current Mercedes squad and a teammate to George Russell and the option is there. Carlos is in his prime and a proven race winner and someone who has "big team" experience in Ferrari, McLaren, and don't forget that he was in a Red Bull system as well. He can develop the car and it is very capable of leading Mercedes with his on-track decisions, just like he did most recently in Ferrari. He is for sure their top-list candidate for that 2nd seat at Brackley-based team!


Audi/Sauber: 

VW Group's Audi bought out Sauber F1 Team and they will officially put their brand name on the F1 grid in 2026, and one of the candidates as their main driver could be Carlos Sainz. His father Sr. is currently their Dakar driver and won with them in the 2024 edition of the rally, so there is a good connection for his son to get into the new seat at Audi. The issue with Audi is that they will be very much new into the F1 world and things won't be as reliable and they won't be front runners from the get-go. The question is: Can Sainz wait and gamble with them? He will be 31 years old in 2026 and he for sure doesn't want to wait that much on his potential WDC chance with a huge unknown in Audi and their F1 efforts. 


Aston Martin: 

With Alonso not getting any younger at the age of 43, the Silverstone-based team needs to look in front of them and their future. Quick and experienced Spaniard isn't their future, but 14 years younger Spaniard could be! Aston Martin could be a good fit for Carlos Sainz as it is a team that's expanding, has experience, and brand new facilities that will boost their results and potential in the future. They already had a good 2023 season and even though many don't believe in them and their speed and behind-the-scene operations, their potential is great and in comparison to Audi, they are here and competing! Honda will be also a new player in Aston Martin operations, which could be questionable as even though they had a very good PU in the last 5 seasons, they are nowhere near Mercedes or Ferrari in terms of pure experience with a huge regulation changes.  


Red Bull:

As we all know, Red Bull is still struggling to find a driver who's good enough to hold Max Verstappen in check and challenge him (but not too much!) over the season. Perez is on his way out after 2024 (and maybe even before) from the flagship Red Bull Racing Team, but they already want to rely on Tsunoda and Ricciardo as Perez's potential replacement. The issue with Tsunoda is that even though he did improve year-over-year he wouldn't be much better than Perez speed-wise and Ricciardo is still a huge unknown. He only just got back into F1 and Red Bull still isn't convinced that they will get Ricciardo of old. This is why Carlos Sainz could be a good fit for them as an ex-Red Bull junior driver who already knows the team and Max as well and has the speed in him to be better competition than any of their current drivers.


There have been rumors about Verstappen vs Sainz family issues in their Toro Rosso days, but those are only just rumors and we don't know that for sure, but that could be a factor in Red Bull not getting Carlos and disrupting their peace inside of the team that's dominating at this point.


Conclusion:

Carlos Sainz won't be without an F1 seat in 2025 and he does have some good options available to him with some of the top teams that could be on the lookout for a driver of his caliber. It's only a matter of what Carlos wants from his future team and if he's patient enough to put his trust into the rookie Audi team, trust the process of Aston Martin, or maybe push himself into a proven winner of Mercedes and Red Bull. Time will tell, but he will be racing in 2025 and beyond, that's for sure! 




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