Behind Sainz’s victory: The job application F1 teams cannot ignore

As the 2025 Formula 1 season looms not too far on the horizon, the racing circuit is abuzz with speculation about Carlos Sainz’s next move. The Spanish driver finds himself at a career crossroads, having parted ways with Ferrari – set to take effect at the end of the year – to make room for Lewis Hamilton. Despite this, Sainz’s market value has soared, particularly after clinching victory at the Australian Grand Prix, an achievement made all the more remarkable by his recent recovery from appendix surgery.

“Still without a job for next year,” Sainz candidly admitted, underscoring his current predicament. Yet, his triumph in Melbourne served as a compelling testament to his prowess on the track. Robert Doornbos, a former Red Bull racer, hailed Sainz’s performance as “the best possible job application, if that’s what he needed.”

Sainz himself seemed unfazed by the swirling rumors, asserting, “For sure it does no harm, but I think everyone already knows more or less what I’m capable of. I don’t race to prove something to team principals, or prove to people my value.” His skill was on full display when he overtook Max Verstappen before the latter’s Red Bull succumbed to a brake failure, extinguishing what could have been a riveting duel for the top spot. “A pity,” Sainz remarked, lamenting the missed opportunity for a showdown, “because I think we would have had a good fight for P1 today.”

Despite consistently demonstrating his capability, including outpacing Verstappen on occasion, Sainz’s talents seem to be perpetually underappreciated. Nevertheless, Charles Leclerc, his teammate at Ferrari, expressed confidence in Sainz’s prospects, noting he’s “not too worried” as Sainz is “for sure” engaging with various teams. The paddock is rife with speculation, connecting Sainz to potential openings at Mercedes, Sauber (poised to become Audi by 2026), and Aston Martin.

Former F1 driver Giedo van der Garde speculated on Sainz’s future, suggesting, “I don’t think he will go to Red Bull. But if Toto Wolff cannot get Max, I think he will call Sainz.” Despite Sainz’s prior affiliation with the Red Bull program and his competitive performances alongside Verstappen at Toro Rosso, Doornbos sees him as a potential fit for Sergio Perez’s seat, especially considering Perez’s recent underwhelming performance. “Perez was not good today,” Doornbos commented, casting doubt on Perez’s impact within Red Bull despite a strong start to the season.

The speculation extends to a possible upheaval at Red Bull, with Roberto Chinchero of Sky Italia suggesting, “There will be a domino effect on the driver market, where the key could be an earthquake at Red Bull, even if that’s unlikely.” Chinchero anticipates Sainz’s future might lie with Aston Martin, despite existing dialogues with Red Bull.

Red Bull’s team principal, Christian Horner, openly acknowledged the fluidity of the driver market, hinting at the possibility of scouting talent beyond their current roster. “There is a very fast driver who won the race today who does not have a contract for next year,” Horner mused, adding, “We want the best possible pair of drivers at Red Bull Racing, so sometimes you need to look outside the system for that. Based on today, any possibility cannot be ruled out.”

As the F1 community eagerly anticipates Sainz’s next chapter, the driver himself remains patient and focused, aware of his strong start to the season. “We have time,” Horner concluded, “Carlos has had a great start to the season and won the race today, so we won’t rush to make a decision.”

GMM

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