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Silly Season: Sainz holding the key for the bottom-half teams

Carlos Sainz is one of the key figures during this year's Silly Season. The Spaniard is key for a lot of teams, even if you wouldn't immediately expect it. In this second part of our analysis of the driver market, we zoom in more on four teams in the rear.

Sainz Marko China
Analysis
To news overview © XPBimages

Carlos Sainz is playing a key role in the 2025 Formula 1 driver market. 

As it stands, Mercedes does not seem a possibility for the current Ferrari driver, and Red Bull is also said to be on the verge of extending Sergio Perez's contract. As a result, Sainz will therefore not be reunited with his former team-mate Max Verstappen. 

However, Sainz himself is also yet to sign to a team, leaving the remaining available F1 drivers in the waiting room.

As long as Sainz does not have a contract for 2025, many F1 teams do not seem to want to make a choice for next year. For now, it seems that Williams and Stake F1/Audi have the best chance to bring in the Spaniard, but at the same time, the Sainz camp held talks with Haas and Alpine in Monaco. The latter two teams, however, do not seem to stand a chance for Sainz's services, and so that seems to be where the first opening for other drivers is coming.

After previously taking a look at Red Bull, Mercedes and Visa Cash App RB, in this second part we will look at the four "smaller" teams that still have a spot vacant.

Haas

An awful lot of names are mentioned at the American team - often it's Esteban Ocon, Zhou Guanyu, Valtteri Bottas and even Yuki Tsunoda that are thrown around. However, who is really in contention at Haas remains a bit unclear.

Haas still has not made a final choice, let alone a clear number one candidate in mind. What is clear is that Oliver Bearman will be the successor to the departing Nico Hulkenberg. 

For the second seat a lot is still uncertain - will Haas take a risk with two young drivers or will the American team take an experienced force to partner Bearman's inexperience?

Kevin Magnussen, who is Haas' most experienced driver in its history, no longer seems to be an option for the team and the question now is what approach Haas will take. 

Will it get involved early in the market and pay a high price for a driver or will it wait and see which drivers are left at the end of the campaign? The latter strategy would at least cost a lot less money.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Williams

One of the teams that has suffered a setback in terms of performance this season is Williams, but in terms of rumours, the team is delivering top-notch performances. For example, Adrian Newey as well as Carlos Sainz are being linked to the team. 

Williams can be proud that it has managed to keep Alexander Albon and it would be a fantastic achievement if it actually managed to snap up Sainz for 2025. 

The team will therefore do everything possible to bring in the Spaniard and only look one door further if Sainz gives the team a definite no. 

Bottas and Ocon seem to be the best candidates after Sainz to get a seat at Williams in 2025. Logan Sargeant it seems, is finished with the Williams team.

Alpine

Speaking of setbacks - Alpine is one of the few to have slipped backwards rather than move forward and must very much fear not finishing at the bottom of the pile this year. 

Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon seemed a certainty last winter in terms of Alpine's driver selection in 2025, but now that we have eight races behind us, things are a little different.

The chances of Ocon staying with the team in 2025 have, after the Monaco Grand Prix, become very slim. In fact, the Frenchman risks losing his seat already during the current F1 season. 

Gasly and Ocon cannot get along, and that poses a growing problem for Alpine. The angry outburst from team boss Bruno Famin in Monaco showed just how high emotions have risen within the squad.

Gasly has still not signed a contract with Alpine for 2025 and so it is still uncertain who will be racing for it next year. In addition to Gasly, Bottas, Zhou and Jack Doohan have also been linked to the team. The latter driver is already currently the reserve driver at Alpine and seems to be a driver who would be easy to insert into the team.

Stake F1/Audi

Audi already has one desirable candidate sealed for 2025 in Nico Hulkenberg. The German will play an important role for Andreas Seidl in terms of developing the 2026 car. Seidl wants to bring in Sainz in addition to Hulkenberg, but the Spaniard still has not made his choice. Audi's financial offer will not be an issue and well-informed sources in the paddock reveal that Sainz will make a mega step in terms of a salary increase.

At the age of 29, however, Sainz is not just seeking the financial picture. The Spaniard wants to become the leader of a competitive F1 team, and it remains to be seen when Audi will become that. Given Audi's history in motorsports, it may only be a matter of time before the German squad become successful, but Sainz wants to be able to deliver immediately in 2026. It seems unlikely that Audi will be able to compete for podium finishes right away, so Sainz is still in doubt about a move to Audi.

Should he choose not to sign for Audi, the German brand seems to want Gasly or Tsunoda. All parties are waiting for Sainz. The question, however, is who will make a choice sooner - Sainz or Audi? 

So for now, things can still go many ways in the driver market for 2025 and many drivers are holding talks with different teams. It makes the market complicated so far, which causes a lot of speculation. 

Sainz, however, holds the key to unlocking the doors and once the Spaniard announces his choice, further developments will begin to follow one another in quick succession.

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