The uncertain future of Carlos Sainz: Mercedes, Williams or Audi?

Despite swirling rumours, Carlos Sainz’s potential transition to Mercedes in 2025 is far from confirmed. While the future of Lewis Hamilton, who’s bound for Ferrari in Sainz’s place, remains a hot topic, Mercedes has not yet made any official announcements about his successor.

Toto Wolff, the team’s influential boss, evidently has his sights set on Max Verstappen amidst ongoing tensions at Red Bull. Meanwhile, discussions with Carlos Sainz, soon to exit Ferrari, have indeed occurred.

Sainz himself expressed on the official F1 website as recently as this week that his decision on where to race next “also depends on other people, on other teams – what they choose to go for.”

Amidst these negotiations, Wolff’s young protégé, Kimi Antonelli, has begun a rigorous testing schedule in older models of Mercedes F1 cars, adhering strictly to the sport’s testing regulations.

Recent insights from the Kolner Express suggest that Wolff also sees Esteban Ocon, another driver under his management, as a viable alternative if Verstappen remains with Red Bull. Wolff outlined his strategy, saying, “We could take a young driver and give him the opportunity to immediately fight for victories without much pressure.” He also considered another scenario: “Or put an experienced driver in the car who can help us get out of our current situation.”

The possibility of Sainz moving to the now fully Audi-owned Sauber team on a lengthy contract is on the table, with Nico Hulkenberg also seen as a key contender for a spot.

The need for fresh talent at Sauber is apparent, with CEO Andreas Seidl acknowledging that “new drivers are needed” according to veteran F1 journalist Roger Benoit. Writing for Blick, he noted that “Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou are a thing of the past. New motivation is needed in the cockpit now. Even the most loyal Sauber fans agree on this.”

Williams emerges as another potential destination for Sainz, though the driver himself has concerns about his competitive positioning, stressing, “I don’t want to be stuck in the midfield or even further back in 2025.”

Mercedes remains a strong contender for Sainz in 2025, despite reports that Wolff might only extend a one-year contract initially, with an option to continue into the 2026 season.

Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher commented on the challenges facing Wolff, noting, “His client teams, especially McLaren, are beating him, and that is the worst thing that can happen to him.” He highlighted the urgency of the situation, adding, “Their number one driver is leaving them because he no longer believes in the team. That’s a big problem for Toto. He has to make sure that he remains attractive as a team so that the really good drivers want to go there.” Schumacher concluded with a stark observation, “Mercedes is in a mess right now. You can see it in Toto’s reactions in the media. I admire him and I like him, but what is going on there now is a disaster.”


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