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Carlos Sainz

Former Williams team-mates reject Sainz to Audi F1 option

Former Williams team-mates Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya both believe Carlos Sainz is headed to their old team, which they feel is a better option than Audi.

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Former Williams team-mates Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya agree that Carlos Sainz should, and will, join their old team.

The two ex-F1 drivers raced alongside each other at the Grove-based outfit between 2001 and 2004, and feel it is the best place for the Spaniard to make his next home.

With the 29-year-old's options depleted, with a move to either Mercedes or Red Bull no longer on the table, it is believed to be a straight fight between Williams and Stake F1 - the team that will become Audi from 2026 onwards - despite the outgoing Ferrari driver saying there are still alternatives.

The German marque has long been considered the favourite for Sainz's signature. However, as Williams has emerged as the front-runner in recent weeks, talk of the three-time grand prix winner joining Audi has cooled somewhat - which is something both Montoya and Schumacher now believe will not happen.

“Carlos will most likely end up at Williams, Montoya told W Radio Colombia. "It’s a better option at the moment than Audi. They have an organisation that has already suffered over the years, they’re already restructured and they’re already going up."

Schumacher, however, went one step further, suggesting the contract was already signed and that it will be confirmed imminently. 

"Carlos Sainz has, if the rumours are to be believed, signed with Williams and that will be announced this week," the 48-year-old said to Sky Sports Germany. "It may sound strange to Sainz at first, but Williams has big goals and ambitious investors. To be honest, it was the best option for him."

The one of the central pillars of Audi being the long-term favourite to sign Sainz was its relationship with his father, Carlos Sainz Sr., who won the Dakar Rally with the German car giant.

Even prior to Lewis Hamilton's Ferrari switch being confirmed, Audi was touted as his likely next destination in F1. However, to Schumacher, it has not done enough, not only to woo Sainz, but also to make itself an attractive proposition to others working in the paddock.

"Audi - or rather Sauber - does not seem to have managed to convey interest and self-confidence," the German said.

"The engineers are a bit stuck, but also the drivers. They have an excellent driver in Nico Hulkenberg, but they also have a free cockpit. Now they have to build up the team. I'm excited about that," he added, before offering a word of caution.

"They have to be very careful that the same thing doesn't happen as with BMW-Sauber. Back then, the Sauber core team stuck together, which made BMW angry and they abandoned the whole project. 

"The main problem for Audi is the team's location. Motorsport takes place in England - and persuading the engineers' families to come to Hinwil in Switzerland is not easy. I think the team is having a hard time recruiting new people. I would like to see more aggressiveness from Audi."

Also interesting:

Join Ian Parkes, Samuel Coop and Nick Golding in the latest episode of the RacingNews365 podcast, looking ahead to this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix. 

The trio discuss how significant this weekend is in the title fight, whether Red Bull's advantage will return and if Andrea Kimi Antonelli will now make his F1 debut at just 17 years old. Much, much more is also discussed! 

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