FormulaNerds Cut To The Race Podcast

A seat for Carlos Sainz: his F1 2025 contract contenders

Four teams are rumoured to be interested in Sainz for a 2025 Formula 1 seat: Red Bull, Mercedes, Sauber, and Aston Martin

Latest Episode | Cut To The Race Podcast

As Formula 1’s most employable unemployed driver, Carlos Sainz must find a seat for the 2025 season.

Carlos Sainz Ferrari F1
Carlos Sainz wins the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix for Ferrari. (Image Credit: @ESPNF1 on Twitter)

Following his victory in Australia last weekend, Carlos Sainz has propelled himself to the top of the driver market for 2025. The Spaniard found himself without a seat for the 2025 season after Ferrari announced that they signed Lewis Hamilton for next year to drive alongside Charles Leclerc.

Thus far, Sainz has achieved 40 points and is P4 in the 2024 Drivers’ Championship. He has accomplished this position despite competing in only two of this year’s three races so far. He is the only driver on the F1 grid who has broken the recent winning streak of Max Verstappen and Red Bull – not once but twice.

Moreover, Sainz took the top step of the podium in Melbourne while still recovering from a major surgery. He missed the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix due to an appendectomy but was back behind the wheel of his SF-24 for the Australian Grand Prix just 16 days later.

Carlos Sainz Ferrari F1 Australian Grand Prix 2024
Carlos Sainz celebrating his 2024 Australian Grand Prix victory. (Image Credit: @Carlossainz55 on Twitter)
Potential options for Sainz

Sainz hopes his recent strong performance will be all the advertising he needs to find a seat for next year. His P3 in Bahrain and P1 in Australia certainly stand him in good stead in the 2025 driver market.

The Ferrari driver has already made a good impression across the wider F1 paddock. Mario Andretti, former F1 driver, spoke to La Gazzetta dello Sport and was asked if he was surprised that Sainz took the victory in Australia rather than his teammate, Leclerc. He responded:

“Not at all. I have always said that both Carlos and Charles are drivers capable of winning races and even a Championship. They are both World Championship material, we have seen it and we continue to see it.”

As reported by Racing Infinity, another former F1 driver, Hans-Joachim Stuck, said:

“Frederic Vasseur will be angry that he made the decision. I never understood the switch from Sainz to Hamilton.”

He continued: “I always wondered why Ferrari would dismiss a driver like Carlos Sainz. After the race you could see that he was still very badly affected by his appendectomy. So you have to rate his win even higher because he did a great job. And that was once again confirmation of the doubts about his dismissal.”

Carlos Sainz F1 Ferrari
Carlos Sainz driving his SF-24 during FP1 of the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. (Image Credit: @Carlossainz55 on Twitter)

Multiple teams on the grid have already spoken out about the Ferrari driver’s talents. Red Bull, Mercedes, Sauber, and Aston Martin have all been circulated as potential options for a seat for Sainz in 2025.

Red Bull’s second seat

Sergio Perez’s contract with the Austrian team expires at the end of the 2024 season and the team are considering options for their second seat. Sainz is a strong candidate to join Red Bull for next year’s season. He has existing connections with the team after driving for Toro Rosso alongside Verstappen on their F1 debuts in 2015.

Carlos Sainz Max Verstappen Toro Rosso F1
Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen were teammates at Toro Rosso from 2015-2016. (Image Credit: @F1GuyDan on Twitter)

As reported by The Race, following the 2024 Australian Grand Prix, Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing team principal, said:

“You’ve had a very fast unemployed driver win the race so the market is reasonably fluid with certain drivers.”

While you cannot rule out that Perez may re-sign with the team if he performs well this season, Red Bull will consider others in the driver market.

Perez achieved what was expected of him as the second driver for the first two races of 2024, taking second place alongside his teammate in first. However, for the third round of the season in Australia, Verstappen experienced reliability issues and was forced to retire his car. With one car out of the race, Red Bull’s expectation for Perez was for him to finish first. Unfortunately, Perez failed to do this, passing the chequered flag in P5.

Undoubtedly, Red Bull can give Sainz a competitive car with opportunities for pole positions, podiums, and wins. However, it would be the second seat available for Sainz and some drivers have not coped well in Verstappen’s shadow.

The team will prioritise Verstappen while he remains at Red Bull, and the driver in the second seat is expected to succeed when Verstappen is unable to. But Sainz is familiar with this setup. Currently at Ferrari, though never officially stated by the team, Leclerc is considered their main driver, with Sainz in the second seat.

Max Verstappen Carlos Sainz Red Bull Ferrari F1
Former teammates Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz shake hands. (Image Credit: @F1Bilgi on Twitter)
Mercedes throw their hat in the ring

In light of Hamilton’s departure from the team at the end of this year’s season, Mercedes must find a new driver for 2025. They are eyeing Sainz as a potential replacement to drive alongside George Russell. As reported by Times Now, their team principal, Toto Wolff, spoke on Ferrari’s recent 1-2 podium success:

“Ferrari deserves that. […] Carlos deserves it – after not only the appendix, but also basically being told ‘You’re not here anymore’. And bang! You can see what some human power can do when it needs to.”

Max Verstappen, Andrea Kimi Antonelli, and Fernando Alonso are also rumoured to be on Mercedes’ shortlist for 2025 drivers.

But would the Silver Arrows be a wise choice for the Spaniard? With the team’s disappointing results so far this season, their prestige may be more enticing than their current decline in performance. They sit in P4 in the 2024 Constructors’ Standings with 26 points.

Sainz family links to Audi

It is rumoured that Sauber, who will be taken over by Audi for 2026, are also interested in Sainz and have shortlisted him for a seat next season. Carlos Sainz Sr., father of the Ferrari driver, has strong links with Audi.

Sainz Sr. drives for Team Audi Sport in the World Rally-Raid Championship. In January of this year, he won the 2024 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia behind the wheel of the Audi RS Q e-tron.

Audi are keen to have a German driver on the team. Therefore, it is rumoured that Sauber are also looking at current Haas driver, Nico Hulkenberg. This driver lineup would reunite the two former Renault teammates in preparation for the Audi takeover in 2026.

Carlos Sainz Nico Hulkenberg Renault F1
Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg were teammates at Renault from 2017-2018. (Image Credit: @F1emportugues on Twitter)

However, with Audi not taking over the team until the 2026 season, the 2025 Sauber seat may not be the best option available to Sainz. The team currently sit in P9 of the 2024 Constructor’s Standings and have yet to score any points this season.

If Sainz is interested in driving for Audi, a better option may be to sign with another team for next year and then reconsider the Audi seat for the 2026 season.

Eddie Jordan thinks Aston Martin is an option

Aston Martin is rumoured to be considering uniting the two Spaniards on the F1 grid, Sainz and Alonso. However, it is unlikely that team boss, Lawrence Stroll, would consider ousting his son, Lance, from his F1 seat.

GPblog reported that Eddie Jordan, former F1 team owner, thinks an all-Spanish driver lineup could be on the cards at Aston Martin. He remarked:

“That’s what I believe. I have no real hardcore evidence, but it’s a gut feel.”

He continued: “And very often my gut feel is a little bit different to other people’s gut feel. And sometimes, I get it right. Sometimes I absolutely screw up. But it does sound nice.” However, David Coulthard, who joined Jordan on the podcast, was surprised by this statement and believes that it would be too uncomfortable for the father and son.

Carlos Sainz Fernando Alonso F1
Fellow Spaniards Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz. (Image Credit: @canaleffe1 on Twitter)

Considering that the details and dates of Lance Stroll’s contract with Aston Martin are not publicly known, it is improbable that he would be without an F1 seat while his father owns the team. Realistically, despite the speculation of a Sainz seat, Lance is only likely to leave Aston Martin if his father no longer owns the team or if he decides that he wants to exit the sport.

Alonso’s contract extends until the end of the 2024 season. Depending on Aston Martin’s performance this year, Alonso may decide to move on from the team and look for contract negotiations elsewhere – perhaps with Mercedes or Red Bull. His move would free up a potential seat for Sainz.

Alonso would be an attractive prospect in the driver market, as the only driver with a contract running out at the end of this year who also has a championship title.

2025 driver market

Multiple drivers on the current F1 grid have contracts that expire at the end of this year’s season. The driver market for 2025 seats is competitive and we will undoubtedly see various changes to the driver lineup next year. These changes will likely be welcomed after the grid remained unchanged between 2023’s final race and the first race of 2024 – the first time in the championship’s history.

Carlos Sainz is a talented driver with championship potential. Therefore, he should not struggle to find a seat for the 2025 Formula 1 season. He does have various options open to him, but those teams also have other drivers in consideration. So, the question remains, which team will he drive for next year?

Upcoming regulation changes

New FIA technical regulations will be introduced for the 2026 season, which could reset the current teams to a blank slate. It is impossible to know which team will develop the fastest car within the limits of the new regulations.

While teams that are currently performing well will have the bonus of more prize money and available time for new developments, there could always be surprises and unexpected changes. Therefore, the teams that look to be the strongest for a 2025 seat may not experience the same level of dominance following the regulations change. The championship competition could be wide open once more as we head into 2026.

Where should Sainz go?

Based on their recent dominance, Red Bull is easily the strongest contender and most attractive prospect for any F1 driver. Sainz and Verstappen would be a great pairing for the team, a step up from their Toro Rosso days together. But Perez may still do enough this season to secure his second seat with the team and extend his current contract.

Carlos Sainz Ferrari F1
Carlos Sainz speaking during an F1 driver conference. (Image Credit: @Independent on Twitter)

Meanwhile, Mercedes have been on the back foot for the past couple of seasons. They have failed to bring the competition to the Austrian-based team. However, Mercedes have a strong history of dominance in F1. A fresh driver lineup could kickstart the change they so desperately need.

Based on their recent performance, a Sauber seat is not currently the best option available to Sainz. But, for 2026, Audi is an unknown option with intriguing potential and family ties. A brand-new team to the grid is equally an exciting opportunity and a risky decision for an F1 driver.

Despite Jordan’s ‘gut feeling’, an all-Spanish driver lineup at Aston Martin is unrealistic given the current team management structure. Equally, the team are not performing as strongly at the start of this season compared to the beginning of 2023. After the first three races of 2023, Aston Martin had scored 65 points. Whereas, after the first three rounds of 2024, the team currently have 25 points. They are in P5 in the 2024 Constructors’ Standings.

However, recent rumours have circulated that Lawrence Stroll has offered Adrian Newey a big-money contract to join the team. A team’s performance is not down to just one person. However, if Newey does jump ship, the addition of a talented aerodynamicist is unlikely to harm Aston Martin’s chances.

Featured Image Credit: @there_is_no_if on Twitter

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.

Back to the top