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Helmut Marko

Marko hints at impending Sainz move decision

Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has weighed in on the F1 driver market, and which factors he believes to be behind the early season activity.

Sainz Marko Japan
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According to Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko, Carlos Sainz may need to give Audi an answer sooner rather than later as to whether he is signing on to its Formula 1 project.

The Spanish driver has been linked with Audi for some time, but the pre-season news that Lewis Hamilton will be taking his seat at Ferrari in 2025 has exacerbated the rumour.

With the grid remaining unchanged from the last race of 2023 to the first race of this season – for the first time in F1 history – news of Hamilton’s Mercedes departure blew the driver market wide open.

With over half the field out of contract at the end of the year, the question of 'who will end up where' has been a major talking point already this season, despite 20 grands prix still to be run.

“In my opinion, the fact that the transfer rumour mill is already cooking like this at the beginning of April is due to several factors,” Marko told Speedweek, before highlighting the Hamilton move as the first influence on the earlier-than-usual ‘silly season’.

'We do not take part in these games'

Turning his attention to unresolved driver moves, Marko zeroed in on Sainz, who is one of the most highly sought-after names still available for next season.

The 29-year-old has impressed many after being dropped by Ferrari, but Marko believes Audi won’t be able to wait around forever as Sainz mulls his options.

“If radio paddock is to be trusted, Audi wants a decision from Carlos Sainz very soon,” the Austrian said.

Despite missing the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with appendicitis, the three-time race winner trails team-mate Charles Leclerc by just four points in the Drivers’ standings.

In beating him on-track in the three races they have fought together, the Spaniard has claimed one race victory and two further podiums.

Hamilton’s soon-to-be-vacant seat at Mercedes is one potential landing spot for Sainz, with Aston Martin and Red Bull other touted destinations.

Marko believes the Silverstone-based outfit has multiple options it is pursuing, but was keen to distance his team from the ongoing driver speculation, adding: “Aston Martin is also putting pressure in several directions.

“We do not take part in these games. We won’t hear from Red Bull Racing until the middle of the season about what’s going on in terms of personnel.”

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