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Christian Horner

Horner confirms 'unemployed' Sainz as potential Verstappen team-mate

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz is searching for a drive next season and put out the best advert possible by winning in Australia.

Horner Bahrain
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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has refused to rule out signing Carlos Sainz as team-mate for Max Verstappen for 2025.

The Spaniard, who is on the market for next season after being replaced by current Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, boosted his stock with victory in the Australian Grand Prix, despite dealing with the effects of an appendectomy two weeks ago.

Sainz's performances are putting him in the same frame as Verstappen's current team-mate Sergio Perez and RB duo Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda for the second Red Bull seat next term, even though he left the stable of drivers with four races remaining in 2017.

The 29-year-old's relationship with Verstappen was a key reason for the now three-time grand prix winner leaving Red Bull's driver pool to move to Renault for 2018.

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko said in an interview that toxicity had grown between the pairing after their year spent as team-mates at Toro Rosso [now RB] in 2015.

Questioned as to whether Sainz could return, speaking to media including RacingNews365, Horner conceded: "Based on a performance like that, you couldn't rule any possibility out.

"We just want to take our time. Checo was compromised [on Sunday] but has had a great start to the season, we are not in any desperate rush.

"Carlos is the only driver who has beaten Red Bull [since the 2022 British Grand Prix] so he appears to be our nemesis."

'We want to take our'

As for Ricciardo, he endured a difficult home event, continuing his scoreless start to the season, whilst team-mate Tsunoda scored an impressive seventh-place finish.

Addressing the Australian's performance, Horner told media including RacingNews365: "He's had a tough weekend, I haven't really looked at his race but it looked like he had a pretty similar pace to Yuki in the race.

"He had a tough day [on Saturday] getting his lap disallowed so I just want to give him a bit of encouragement."

Asked whether Ricciardo needed the motivation, Horner replied: "He's a big boy, he will pick himself up but sometimes being an F1 driver can be a bit lonely, so a bit of encouragement is never a bad thing."

On where that leaves Ricciardo in the running for the second Red Bull seat next season, Horner insisted: "I think it is still very early in the year to be thinking about this.

"Yuki is a very quick driver, we know that, but we want to field the best pairing we can have at Red Bull.

"Sometimes, you have got to look outside the pool as well. We have had a very fast unemployed driver win, the market is reasonably fluid with certain drivers."

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