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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

What subsequent for Sainz after Hamilton’s Ferrari F1 change bombshell?

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The revelation that Lewis Hamilton will depart Mercedes for Ferrari, which introduced a brand new multi-year deal for Charles Leclerc solely final Thursday, essentially means there isn’t any room for Scuderia incumbent Carlos Sainz past the expiration of his present 2024 Method 1 deal.

Sainz made plain that he wanted his future to be secured before the start of the new season so he might enter with a transparent head. The Spaniard – signed by ex-Ferrari group principal Mattia Binotto – thought this meant agreeing revised phrases with the squad’s new F1 boss Fred Vasseur.

The 2-time grand prix winner has stacked up convincingly alongside Leclerc throughout their three years at team-mates. As such, Sainz was in a powerful place to barter a pay rise and a minimum of a two-year extension to take his Ferrari keep as much as the brand new guidelines cycle beginning in 2026.

However talks dragged on. Talking in December, Vasseur put this down to a hectic year.

“I’ve to confess that the final a part of the season was a giant chaos for everyone,” mentioned the Ferrari group principal.

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“It was very demanding. We had conferences and we began the dialogue, however we’re late in comparison with the preliminary plan.”

It has since transpired that Vasseur and Ferrari president John Elkann have been lining up one other blockbuster possibility.

Vasseur celebrates Sainz’s 2024 GP win whereas linking arms with the Spaniard’s 2025 substitute

Photograph by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Final summer time, Hamilton agreed to increase his Mercedes keep by an additional two years till the tip of 2025. These contract talks have been additionally drawn out. It now seems as if that deal was truly for a set one-year time period with an possibility for an additional season. The Hamilton camp had included an exit clause, which appears to have been exercised amid the Ferrari method.

That leaves Sainz as a free agent heading into 2025 when, because it stands, no fewer than 13 seats will likely be up for grabs. However strikes to Haas, RB, Williams and Alpine – the place the team-mates are all out of contract on the finish of 2024 – are more likely to be among the many much less interesting choices at current.

As a substitute, these are the doable vacancies Sainz and his supervisor would possibly contemplate extra strongly.

Mercedes

Hamilton’s shock change now leaves Mercedes with a seat going spare for 2025 and past. This berth would enable Sainz to swap one front-running producer seat for an additional. And, having confirmed that he fares soundly alongside Leclerc, Sainz will imagine he can slot in and examine equally nicely towards potential future Silver Arrows stablemate George Russell.

As each group and driver weigh up their choices, the early races of 2024 will give a clearer image of the destiny of Mercedes’ ground-effects restoration. With James Allison returning to a extra hands-on position as technical director, and the W15 marking a brand new automotive design idea, there will likely be loads of consideration on whether or not the eight-time constructors’ champion has mounted its ground-effects dip to place the strain on Purple Bull or is certainly caught within the mire.

Sainz would possibly attraction to Mercedes as a medium-term signing. Its junior driver Andrea Kimi Antonelli is proving to be a formidable expertise, having gained the German and Italian Method 4 titles in the identical yr earlier than sealing the Method Regional European Championship crown final season. In 2024, he’ll step as much as FIA F2 with Prema Racing. Ought to he want two bites of the cherry to win the championship earlier than Toto Wolff decides to fit him right into a decrease midfield F1 group – per Russell at Williams – to refine his topflight craft, Sainz can be a realistic placeholder.

Nonetheless, Hamilton’s Ferrari change underlines that F1 driver contracts are malleable. Anybody can transfer for the suitable value. As such, the multi-year new offers that Ferrari has agreed with Leclerc and McLaren with Lando Norris (notably, neither specified the precise contract size) don’t completely preclude Mercedes from making an method for one or the opposite to turn out to be Hamilton’s inheritor.

Purple Bull

Sainz will certainly additionally consider linking up with Max Verstappen as soon as extra given Purple Bull’s present type. Sergio Perez is out of contract on the finish of the yr and in mild of his protracted struggles, it’s exhausting to envisage the group extending that relationship. On paper, there’s house.

A touch of the familiar - would Sainz consider a Red Bull homecoming alongside Verstappen?

A contact of the acquainted – would Sainz contemplate a Purple Bull homecoming alongside Verstappen?

Photograph by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Downside one for Sainz is Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian is successfully ready within the wings on the rebranded RB squad. He’s odds on to interchange Perez for 2025 or sooner, ought to the Mexican underwhelm within the opening races to immediate the Purple Bull axe to swing as soon as once more mid-season.

Ever since he was jettisoned by McLaren to reunite with Purple Bull for 2023 in a third-driver capability, Ricciardo has happy each efficiency criterion. He ran nicely in personal exams and through simulator periods and, both aspect of breaking a bone in his hand at Zandvoort to immediate a spell on the sidelines, impressed whereas returning to frontline motion at AlphaTauri.

Regardless of Sainz now coming onto the market, Ricciardo stays the favorite to take Perez’ seat for 2025. Not to mention if Purple Bull decides to swap any sooner.

The second difficulty for Sainz is what the state of his working relationship with Verstappen can be the second time round. Reigning triple champion Verstappen, contracted to Purple Bull till the tip of 2028, will doubtless have few qualms about who his future team-mate is, believing he can beat whoever walks by way of the door. However it ought to be famous that he enjoys an amicable rapport with Ricciardo. The identical isn’t mentioned of his stint alongside Sainz.

Throughout their 2015-16 stint as Toro Rosso team-mates, the connection was speculated to have been fractious. Purple Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko known as it “poisonous”, though this was extra all the way down to the pair each preventing it out for a promotion to the highest group. The dynamic is smoother now, as each have solid their very own paths in F1 and matured through the years. However it would possibly stay a consideration for Sainz.

Aston Martin

If driver contracts are definitely worth the paper they’re written on, seemingly a return to McLaren is off the desk for Sainz. Norris and Oscar Piastri are beneath lock and key, having agreed new offers in current months. Aston Martin, which has additionally invested closely to improve its infrastructure and rent high-profile technical employees, would due to this fact signify one other upwardly cell possibility.

Throughout 2023, it’s understood that Aston F1 executives sounded out the supply and curiosity of Norris and Leclerc. Theoretically, this could have been to interchange Fernando Alonso, whose contract expires on the finish of the yr. Nonetheless, the group is eager to increase his keep at Silverstone.

Sainz's career moves have oddly mirrored Alonso's. Is Aston Martin the next step?

Sainz’s profession strikes have oddly mirrored Alonso’s. Is Aston Martin the following step?

Photograph by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

There was another college of thought. Given Lawrence Stroll needs to win championships, and the group has just lately taken on outdoors funding so should fulfill new stakeholders, a extra aggressive substitute for Lance Stroll would possibly in the future be required. The Canadian successfully has the drive so long as he needs. However ought to Norris or Leclerc have expressed clear curiosity, maybe it might have been a chance too good for Stroll Sr to show down.

Since Ferrari and McLaren have finally managed to retain the companies of their talismanic lead drivers, Sainz might exchange them within the hearsay mill. There is likely to be a separate emotional attraction, as slotting in alongside Alonso would see Sainz companion his childhood F1 hero.

Audi

Sainz may also contemplate extra of a raffle. Each Sauber drivers are out of contract on the finish of this season. Valtteri Bottas has instructed Autosport that any extension thereafter will likely be indicative of him having secured a seat for 2026 when the group correctly morphs into Audi. Sainz might due to this fact transfer for 2025, spend a season acclimatising to the squad and provides his enter to deliver on the race group operation and develop the automotive.

Alternatively, he might take a threat and go for a yr’s sabbatical to come back again revitalised for 2026 as the brand new powertrain and chassis rules make their debut.

The arrival of Audi into F1 not solely presents Sainz with a chance to signify a serious German producer but in addition the prospect of being a lynchpin round which a group can construct. By the way, very like his Ferrari substitute Hamilton achieved at Mercedes. Sainz will flip 30 this yr so would possibly moderately count on one other seven or eight years in F1. If Audi is pragmatic, dedicated and invests nicely, that’s sufficient time to bother to the entrance of the grid.

Such a transfer to turn out to be Audi’s main mild would possibly signify a good-looking payday, ought to remuneration be a substantial motivating issue for Sainz. That may soften the blow if Audi’s arrival is underwhelming. Whereas Sauber say Audi’s lack of communication concerning its nascent F1 programme has been to keep away from any overlap with earlier title companion and rival automotive producer Alfa Romeo, the silence has led to hypothesis. Some have thought of whether or not the Audi engine programme is nicely delayed or if the Ingolstadt boardroom is getting chilly toes. Each rumours have been denied.

Latest occasions have additionally made the Audi possibility extra romantic. Final month, Carlos Sainz Sr secured Audi its first-ever Dakar Rally victory aboard the electrified RS Q e-tron. That off-road programme will now be shut down so assets will be devoted to the F1 operation, the place Sainz Jr can decide up the baton.

 



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