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Damon Hill says Red Bull ‘is run by the Verstappen family’ and fears for Carlos Sainz

Former F1 driver, Damon Hill thinks Carlos Sainz may lose out in the 2025 driver market because of the Verstappen family: Red Bull “is basically their team”

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Hill worries that Sainz will fail to secure a top team seat for 2025, which would be a “travesty”.

Damon Hill thinks Carlos Sainz move to Red Bull with Max Verstappen is unlikely
Are Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz going to be a driver pairing at Red Bull for 2025? (Image Credit: @sopietv on Twitter)

Following Fernando Alonso’s announcement that he would remain with Aston Martin for 2025, the driver market rumours for next season have reached boiling point. Carlos Sainz, winner of the 2024 Australian Grand Prix and the only driver yet to win other than Max Verstappen, lost his 2025 seat.

At the start of this year’s season, Ferrari announced that their 2025 drivers would be Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc. Thus, leaving the Spaniard without a seat for next year. His options for 2025 have been circulated in the rumour mill, including Red Bull, Mercedes, Aston Martin, and Sauber (to be Audi in 2026). With Aston Martin seemingly off the table, Sainz’s options are narrowing.

Damon Hill believes that Red Bull is unlikely for Sainz

As reported by PlanetF1, Hill spoke about the choices for Carlos Sainz, he remarked:

“What’s available? Mercedes is the obvious one. With Red Bull, I can’t see how that’s gonna work with Max there.”

Hill, winner of the 1996 championship, does not believe that Red Bull is a realistic option for Sainz. He said: “I can’t see that they’re gonna allow anyone… unless he’s prepared to be a good number two but then Checo is doing a very good job there doing that role as well.”

Red Bull currently has the fastest car on the grid and would be the most desirable prospect for a driver looking for a seat in F1. However, despite struggling towards the end of last year’s season, Sergio Perez has secured three out of four second-place results for Red Bull. That meant three 1-2 finishes for the Austrian team, with Verstappen taking victory.

Perez’s only slip so far this season was the 2024 Australian Grand Prix. As Verstappen was forced to retire his car, it became Perez’s job to finish first. Unfortunately, he crossed the line in P5.

However, Perez seemed to redeem himself at the following race in Japan, with Horner stating that “it’s his seat to lose” at Red Bull. So, if Perez continues to perform this year, bringing home more 1-2 results for the team, then it is likely he will retain his seat for 2025.

Carlos Sainz Sergio Perez Max Verstappen F1, Damon Hill thinks Red Bull is a Verstappen family team
Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen, and Carlos Sainz share the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix podium. (Image Credit: @redbullracing on Twitter)
Giedo van der Garde: “as long as Verstappen is there, Carlos Sainz will not be there […] That’s too much fuss.”

Dutch former racing driver, Van de Garde believes that Carlos Sainz should only be signed for Red Bull if Verstappen leaves for Mercedes. As reported by PlanetF1, he said: “Sainz will of course talk to everyone. If I were him, I’d wait. If there is an option to get into the best car, the Red Bull…”

He continued:

 “But if something happens to Max and he chooses another team, as Red Bull I would get Sainz. As long as Perez continues to drive next to Max as he is doing now, he can stay for another two years.”

Giedo van der Garde and Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing Spain's Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya F1
Giedo van der Garde and Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing in the pit box during the third and final day of testing at Spain’s Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya before the start of the 2022 F1 season. (Image Credit: ANP/Getty Images)

Van de Garde believes that Sainz is stronger than Perez. He says that if Sainz and Verstappen drove for Red Bull in 2025: “It would be very close and make for great fights”. But Red Bull wants the perfect second driver for Verstappen. And, as long as he continues his current form, Perez is that perfect option for the second Red Bull seat.

So, where does that leave Sainz? If Red Bull is out of the question, his next best option is the Mercedes seat.

Will Wolff sign Sainz?

Now that Hamilton will depart for Ferrari in 2025, Toto Wolff – Mercedes Team Principal – needs to find a replacement. For the 2025 Mercedes seat alongside George Russell, the rumour mill has spoken and Andrea Kimi Antonelli has been earmarked as a strong contender.

However, this all depends on how the Italian’s F2 season progresses. The junior driver will be getting the opportunity to drive the W12 F1 car in testing at the Red Bull Ring on 16th April.

Andrea Kimi Antonelli Mercedes
Andrea Kimi Antonelli is an option for the 2025 Mercedes seat. (Image Credit: @F1MercHub on Twitter)

Wolff has also been vocal in his praise for Verstappen. He is trying to entice the Dutchman and reigning world champion to Mercedes for 2025. With the current performance of their W15, it is unlikely that Verstappen would swap his Red Bull for the Mercedes.

Sebastian Vettel has also been included in speculations for the Mercedes seat. He has said that to return to the sport he would need the right package. Vettel also reminded the media that he did retire for a reason. He is not ruling out an F1 return, but it depends on the car and the contract.

Other than Kimi Antonelli, Verstappen, and Vettel, Sainz is the remaining favourite option for the 2025 Mercedes seat. If Perez remains at Red Bull with Verstappen, the Mercedes seat is the best option for Sainz. Despite the Brackley-based outfit’s struggles for performance this year, they are still a team fighting for second place with a championship-winning history and potential. His other option would be Sauber.

George Russell Carlos Sainz Mercedes Ferrari F1
Carlos Sainz is rumoured to be considered for a seat alongside George Russell at Mercedes. (Image Credit: @Scuderiascoop on Twitter)
Sauber move would be a “travesty” and “shame”

Karun Chandhok, racing driver and current Sky Sports F1 presenter said it would be a “shame” if Sainz went to Sauber. The team have been in the bottom half of the grid for a few seasons. They are currently P9 in the Constructors’ Standings with zero points scored so far in 2024.

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA Damon Hill Karun Chandhok F1 Jeddah Corniche Circuit March 16, 2023
Damon Hill and Karun Chandhok of Sky Sports during previews ahead of the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. (Image Credit: Qian Jun/MB Media/Getty Images)

Hill agrees with Karun. He said:

“I think it’d be an absolute travesty if Carlos Sainz did not find himself in a front-running team next year. He deserves to be in a top team.”

Sauber is being taken over by Audi for 2026. It is unlikely that the team will perform to the level Sainz is used to and deserves based on his recent performance.

Audi does have links to the Sainz family through Carlos Sainz Sr.’s rallying career and the team has potential. But, with Sauber’s current performance, a regulation change for 2026, and the change in team ownership, fighting to be a front-running team may be too much too soon.

Nico Hulkenberg George Russell Carlos Sainz F1
Nico Hulkenberg, George Russell, and Carlos Sainz talking before the 2024 Australian Grand Prix. Sainz has the option of a 2025 seat at Sauber. Hulkenberg is also rumoured for a move to Sauber ahead of the 2026 Audi takeover. (Image Credit: @yvesaintrussell on Twitter)

Featured Image Credit: Kym Illman/Getty Images

  1. Carlos deserves a top team. Red Bull is not I repeat run by the Verstappens. If the lead driver isn’t happy then he can leave. Bye bye! 👋🏽

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