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Formula 1

Where Red Bull F1 snub leaves Sainz for 2025

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
3 min read

Sergio Perez’s new contract means Red Bull has snubbed Carlos Sainz and left him assessing midfield options for his post-Ferrari future - with a decision likely to be made swiftly.

Since finding out he would lose his Ferrari seat at the end of 2024 to Lewis Hamilton, Sainz has been waiting to see if a wild driver market would swing in his favour, especially at Red Bull, given rumours of a possible Max Verstappen exit and a recent downturn in Perez’s form.

Even as it recently became clear Verstappen would stay put, for 2025 at least, it was hoped that Perez’s decline over the last three races might help Red Bull realise it needs a better team-mate for its world champion.

Unfortunately for Sainz, the competitive picture doesn’t trump Red Bull’s concern about the tensions that existed when he was team-mates with Verstappen at Toro Rosso.

Regardless of Sainz and Verstappen themselves getting on well, Red Bull doesn’t want their fathers in the same place again as that is where the primary Toro Rosso issues stemmed from.

It also doesn’t help that Sainz is quick enough to make life a little too uncomfortable for Verstappen as well - something Red Bull is not likely to publicly admit. 

The ‘no’ from Red Bull comes as Mercedes stopped being a realistic option as well.

Mercedes is very keen to promote its young Formula 2 protege Kimi Antonelli straight into the works team next season and as Antonelli is under contract, Mercedes does not need to stress making that decision.

This means potentially waiting until deeper into the year to commit - and as it’s highly likely Sainz’s fallback options will all have disappeared by then, he is not willing to wait that long to find out if Mercedes has a place for him, especially as it would likely only want or need him on a short-term deal.

So, with Red Bull opting against Sainz, and Mercedes effectively timing itself out of the equation, the gamble’s not paid off, and now Sainz needs to pick between two options with big downsides for his F1 future, as a backwards step now looks unavoidable. 

Sainz indicated in Monaco that things could move quite quickly once he knew what he wanted, which is likely a reference to there being good contract offers from both Audi and Williams.

They are the two teams Sainz is understood to be choosing between, with the matter as simple as waiting to know 100% that Red Bull was off the table because sitting down and considering the two options properly.

The Sauber/Audi argument is obvious. It will become a works team, Audi has succeeded everywhere it has competed in motorsport, and Sainz can bank a long-term, well-paid contract with a top manufacturer. That could also lead to other interesting opportunities in the future.

The fact the team is Sauber is hardly ideal, though, and it had a very poor Monaco Grand Prix weekend that left it the only point-less team in 2024 after Williams and Alex Albon finished ninth - a timely result for that team in its bid to back up its convincing pitches to the Sainz camp with some meaningful on-track action.

There is just enough uncertainty about Audi as a race team and a new engine manufacturer that the argument is not overwhelmingly compelling, hence Williams being seriously in the picture.

It’s not only about recent results and short-term prospects. Sainz needs to work out what the best fit is for him and his medium-term intentions.

Now the Perez deal is 100% done, expect Sainz to decide swiftly - barring any late twists in an already dramatic silly season.

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