Sainz’s Future in the Wake of Hamilton’s Surprise Move to Ferrari in F1

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What next for Sainz after Hamilton’s Ferrari F1 switch bombshell?

The news of Lewis Hamilton’s departure from Mercedes to join Ferrari, which recently signed a new multi-year deal with Charles Leclerc, means there is no longer a place for Carlos Sainz at Scuderia beyond the conclusion of his current 2024 Formula 1 contract.

Sainz had expressed his desire to secure his future before the start of the new season and initially aimed to renegotiate terms with Ferrari’s new F1 boss, Fred Vasseur. Despite his strong performance alongside Leclerc over the past three years, talks were delayed due to the hectic end to the season, as Vasseur explained in December.

It has now come to light that Hamilton’s contract extension with Mercedes, announced last summer until the end of 2025, was for a fixed one-year term with an option for an additional season. With Hamilton’s move to Ferrari, Sainz is now a free agent for the 2025 season, where numerous seats will be available.

Sainz's Future in the Wake of Hamilton's Surprise Move to Ferrari in F1
Sainz’s Future in the Wake of Hamilton’s Surprise Move to Ferrari in F1 (Credits: Autosport)

Possible options for Sainz include Mercedes, as Hamilton’s departure creates a vacancy. Sainz, having demonstrated his abilities alongside Leclerc, could be considered for a medium-term signing, especially with Mercedes’ junior driver, Andrea Kimi Antonelli, still progressing in the lower categories.

Red Bull is another option, considering Sergio Perez’s contract expires at the end of the year. However, Daniel Ricciardo is waiting in the wings and is likely to replace Perez for 2025 or earlier. The potential working relationship between Sainz and Max Verstappen, given their past stint as Toro Rosso teammates, maybe a consideration.

Aston Martin is also a potential destination for Sainz, especially if his return to McLaren is off the table due to the recent contract extensions of Norris and Piastri. Sainz’s career moves have mirrored Fernando Alonso’s, and joining Aston Martin could offer an emotional appeal by partnering with his childhood F1 hero.

A more daring move for Sainz could be Audi, especially with both Sauber drivers out of contract at the end of the season. The prospect of becoming Audi’s leading driver and helping build a new team could be enticing, although it involves some uncertainty given the lack of clear communication about Audi’s F1 program.

Sainz might also consider a year’s sabbatical or take a gamble on joining Audi for the 2025 season and contributing to the development of the team and the car. Recent events, including Carlos Sainz Sr’s victory in the Dakar Rally with Audi, add a touch of romance to the potential Audi option. Sainz has been linked with a reunion with Andreas Seidl at Audi for a while.

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