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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

What’s behind Ferrari’s silence on Sainz’s F1 future

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Sainz has been fairly open that he did not want to go into the 2024 season without his F1 future beyond the end of the year sorted.

Talking solely to Autosport final June concerning the scenario, Sainz mentioned: “I am not going to lie, I don’t like going into my final yr of a contract with out actually realizing the place I am racing the subsequent yr.

“I went via that course of each with Purple Bull and Renault, and I do know it’s not preferrred as an athlete, and as a driver. It is simply not the best factor. And that is why I’ve put this winter as a reference to try to work out my future.”  

This stance was not at odds with Ferrari’s personal choice too. Crew boss Fred Vasseur had even made it clear throughout his annual Christmas lunch at Maranello that sorting both Ferrari drivers’ contracts out before racing going again was a clear “goal”.

“We met and began discussions, however we’re a little bit behind the preliminary plan,” he mentioned on the time. “I do not think about it an issue in any respect, we’ll decide quickly.”

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Whereas there are nonetheless 5 weeks to go earlier than each Sainz and Ferrari’s provisional deadline is up, the truth that the workforce elected to go together with Leclerc’s announcement alone – fairly than wait and go public with each drivers on the similar time – has prompted some to counsel that issues might not be as fully nailed as hoped for.

It’s understood that Sainz is after a two-year extension, to take him via to the tip of the 2026 season, however an settlement nonetheless appears fairly far-off.

And whereas talks are ongoing, within the background there have been whispers that Alex Albon is a severe various with the Williams driver believed to be out of contract on the finish of this yr.

Photograph by: Ferrari

Leclerc and Sainz are an evenly-matched pair

On one aspect it’s completely possible that an excessive amount of is being learn into the scenario over Ferrari saying Leclerc alone as a result of, not like different squads, the workforce very not often pronounces each drivers on the similar time.

There additionally stays loads of time for Ferrari, having obtained Leclerc’s scenario sorted, to now nail Sainz’s deal and provides the workforce complete driver safety for at the very least the subsequent two years.

The Leclerc pairing

From Ferrari’s perspective, there actually appears little motive to query whether or not or not Sainz is as much as the job of staying there.

His performances over the three seasons spent at Maranello have been wonderful, and the mixture with Leclerc has created probably the most full pairings within the paddock who assist push the workforce on.

Leclerc has nice pure expertise that enables him to face out in qualifying and the warmth of battle, whereas Sainz is a consummate skilled with nice know-how and technical sensitivity – qualities which can be very helpful to engineers. 

The 2 drivers are very evenly matched, and any variations between them are marginal – however in the end are a complement in lifting the general energy of the workforce.

Nevertheless, the actual fact stays that the negotiations between Ferrari and Sainz’s representatives are taking longer than anticipated. And the silence about progress has solely served to gas hypothesis about what is admittedly occurring.

What is apparent although is that Sainz is in a a lot stronger place to barter higher phrases than he was final time round.

Sainz took Ferrari's only win of 2023 at Singapore

Photograph by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Sainz took Ferrari’s solely win of 2023 at Singapore

Again on 21 April 2022, the Spaniard’s renewal for the 2023 and 2024 seasons was introduced at a time when Leclerc had had two wins and a second place from the primary three races, whereas Sainz had had a runner-up spot in Bahrain and third place in Saudi Arabia.

Two years on, it is rather possible that Sainz has his eye on higher phrases, not solely on the monetary entrance, but additionally different contractual components just like the period of the contract. 

It’s nearly actually no coincidence that Ferrari prevented speaking the period of its new settlement with Leclerc, as it’s a delicate piece of information for understanding the Scuderia’s long-term technique. 

If, as is hypothesised, the settlement is for 3 seasons till the tip of 2027 (with an choice for the subsequent two), it’s yet one more affirmation that Maranello sees Leclerc as its elementary asset for the longer term.

In such a state of affairs, it’s not simple for Sainz to suit into his function. There is no such thing as a suggestion of Ferrari having a transparent primary and quantity two driver tag, however there are different priorities – like with business companions and media focus – the place groups want to base themselves round one driver.

That mentioned, victory is tremendously essential for these on the helm of the workforce. This was apparent finally yr’s Singapore Grand Prix the place your complete Ferrari workforce rallied round Sainz. 

In the end, Ferrari is aware of that Sainz represents the absolute best selection for the 2025/26 two-year interval, and he is aware of equally effectively that remaining two extra years on the Prancing Horse is the best choice for his profession.

However as talks drag on, getting a deal throughout the road might require compromises from each events.

Is Albon another plan?

Albon has been widely linked with a Ferrari move once his Williams deal expires

Photograph by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Albon has been broadly linked with a Ferrari transfer as soon as his Williams deal expires

In such a state of affairs the place driver/workforce discussions attain an deadlock, what’s essential to know is the opposite choices which can be obtainable available on the market.

Lando Norris’ choice to commit long-term to McLaren means he has now been removed from the equation for quite a while.

So, if Ferrari wished another person who would match the invoice of a workforce participant for 2025 and past, with good technical information and the understanding of the way in which large groups work, then Albon is an apparent candidate.

Final yr, there was hypothesis in Italy that he was Ferrari’s most popular route for the long run – however this was denied on the time by Vasseur as a result of he mentioned that it was too early to consider driver negotiations.

The Thai driver is known to be a free agent for 2025 and, whereas loving his life at Williams, the attraction of becoming a member of a legend like Ferrari can be one thing very troublesome to show down.

Talking final yr, Albon mentioned that he was in no rush to kind out a Williams contract as he intentionally wished to see what was obtainable available on the market.

“I believe I’ve the boldness in myself to maintain myself open,” he mentioned.

“I wish to give myself the possibility to have the ability to struggle for wins and struggle for podiums. And what it comes right down to is, at the moment and in that point, can we carry this workforce [Williams] to be that workforce?”

Ought to another driver be a path that Ferrari goes down, it might actually not imply the tip of Sainz’s F1 profession.

He has frequently been linked with Audi – and praised the German manufacturer recently after his father’s victory with it in the Dakar Rally – and even someplace like Aston Martin can be an excellent choice.

Nevertheless it’s truthful to say that for each Sainz and Ferrari, sticking collectively provides extra ensures than going their separate methods.

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