Clock ticks for Sainz: Short Audi ultimatum for F1 star

With Audi recently stepping in as Sauber’s new proprietor, the motorsport giant has laid down a finite timeline for Carlos Sainz, offering him a pivotal role in their ambitious Formula 1 venture, with a decision expected within the fortnight.

Currently donned in neon green with sponsorship from ‘Stake’ and ‘Kick’, Sauber is contending with challenges beyond just speed, notably a wheel design flaw that’s been compromising pitstops throughout the 2024 season.

Amidst this backdrop, Carlos Sainz, fresh off a victory in Melbourne and amidst speculation about his future with teams like Mercedes and Red Bull, is at a career crossroads.

“Andreas Seidl wants planning security,” Bild newspaper highlights, quoting Sauber’s CEO on the urgency of securing Sainz’s commitment.

Auto Motor und Sport has reportedly set a mid-April ultimatum for the 29-year-old Spaniard to decide his trajectory for 2025 and beyond, with Nico Hulkenberg seemingly confirmed for the team’s second seat.

Throughout this season’s races, Sainz has been under the guidance of his renowned father, Carlos Sainz Sr., who has been instrumental in deliberating his son’s future engagements in Formula 1.

“It’s difficult to say where my son will be in 2025,” expressed Sainz Sr., a celebrated figure in rallying, during a conversation with Sky Italia. He added, “I hope to see him in a car that can fight to win. Everything that happened (with Ferrari) was a surprise, we didn’t expect it and now we’re trying to understand what to do and where to go. In the meantime, Ferrari seems to be allowing both drivers to push and the feeling is good. Red Bull is still the favourite, but Ferrari is closer now.”

The unexpected move by Ferrari to sign Lewis Hamilton for the 2025 season left many, including 1978 world champion Mario Andretti, considering it a gamble. “Hamilton seemed to be an extraordinary driver, but now we see that he is also just human,” Andretti remarked to La Gazzetta dello Sport, reflecting on the scenario akin to Michael Schumacher’s comeback. Andretti further lamented, “It makes me a bit sad that Sainz is being sacrificed to make room for Hamilton. Compared to Charles (Leclerc), Carlos seems to immediately have a better feeling with the 2024 car.”

Echoing Andretti’s sentiment, former F1 driver Christian Danner critiqued Ferrari’s decision, suggesting, “They signed the wrong driver,” as reported by motorsport-magazin.com. He believes that Ferrari’s team boss, Frederic Vasseur, “should have waited a little longer.”

Giancarlo Minardi, with his history as a team owner and boss in F1, shared with Corriere dello Sport his preference for nurturing young talent, concluding that Hamilton’s primary contribution would be attracting top engineers to the team.: “All my life, I have preferred young drivers. The only thing Hamilton can do is bring in some valuable engineers.”

GMM

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