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Carlos Sainz

What next for Sainz after losing his Ferrari seat?

Where does Carlos Sainz end up after losing his Ferrari Formula 1 seat to Lewis Hamilton for 2025?

Sainz Abu Dhabi
Analysis
To news overview © XPBimages

For the third time in his career, Carlos Sainz has drawn the short straw when it comes to a high-profile driver move and has been the one left standing when the music stops.

First it was being overlooked for promotion to Red Bull in 2016 in favour of one M.Verstappen and then in 2018 after a par season with Renault, he was dropped for Daniel Ricciardo after his big-money move from Red Bull.

Now, without doing a whole lot wrong, the Spaniard will lose his Ferrari seat at the end of the coming season to be replaced by the incoming Lewis Hamilton in a major coup for the Scuderia and chairman John Elkann.

In a message posted to social media shortly after the announcement of Hamilton's arrival, Sainz hinted that his future might be solved rather quickly with a new drive lined up.

It is clear that Sainz deserves and will in almost every circumstance remain on the F1 grid. He is too high a calibre and experienced a driver to fall off the grid, even if that last tiny fraction to take him to the Hamilton, Verstappen, Fernando Alonso, Charles Leclerc elite can sometimes be lacking.

So, what are Sainz's options?

Sainz's future prospects

There are two major options for Sainz and where he could end up for 2025, and one is the logical choice.

A simple straight swap with Mercedes to plug and play with Hamilton is one of the two major possibilities for the two-time Grand Prix.

Mercedes needs a driver, Sainz needs a seat, but on this occasion, it does feel like 2+2=5. Sainz is keen to become a team leader in his own right and stamp his authority and become the 'man'. That is exactly what George Russell is going to spend the next 12 months trying to do at Mercedes and shove Hamilton out the door as firmly 'yesterday's man.'

That in itself is a fascinating aspect to Mercedes' season and with the hopes pinned on Russell, bringing in a driver who wants to do exactly the same would not be the wisest idea.

On the other hand, there is a team leader spot open for Sainz, and it is with a team he has been heavily linked with and for whom his father just won the Dakar Rally: Audi.

Audi is not coming in until 2026 in its own-right, but will continue to ramp up its involvement in the Stake team in the coming two seasons to prepare for the '26 attack.

As Hamilton did in 2013 and has again now before that massive rules reset for 2026, he is taking a year to bed in for the changes come.

It is extremely unlikely that Valtteri Bottas or Zhou Guanyu will be an Audi works driver when the Ingolstadt concern does arrive and it would do nobody any favours for Sainz to turn up in 2026 and not only get to grips with the new breed of car, but also the team.

Carlos Sainz Sr recently said after his Dakar win for Audi that he speaks with his son about Audi's wider motorsport programmes, including F1.

Ever since Audi announced it was entering F1 in mid-2022, Sainz's name has been the one most-often linked to the drive. It would simply take something astonishing for him not to be at Stake for 2025 and then become Audi leader for 2026.

			© RN365/Michael Potts
	© RN365/Michael Potts

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