JANUARY 31, 2024
Sainz's Ferrari contract talks complicated
Carlos Sainz's negotiations with Ferrari over a new deal beyond 2024 "have become complicated".
That is the claim of the authoritative Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport, which hints that the Spaniard could depart Maranello at the end of the year.
The latest news comes after Ferrari inked a new, long and lucrative new deal with Charles Leclerc - interpreted as a move to quietly end the team's Mattia Binotto-era policy of having two equal 'number 1' drivers.
Sainz is ambitious, said correspondent Fulvio Solms. "He wants to win a world title. But it's this very tenacity that has become a problem at a Ferrari that is Leclerc-centric.
Frederic Vasseur is now in line with president John Elkann, who wants a team with one striker - Lerclerc.
As all of this is happening, 29-year-old Sainz and his famous father and namesake have dropped hints that Sauber-Audi may be the next destination.
Ferrari has clear options for a new 'number 2' for Leclerc - like 18-year-old Oliver Bearman, a favourite for the Formula 2 title this year whilst also now becoming a reserve driver for Ferrari.
Another impressive British driver now being linked with a move to Ferrari is Alex Albon, who is out of contract at Williams for 2025.
It was said that Sainz wanted a long contract, but in the end Charles was given one and Carlos was not, said Russian F1 commentator Alexey Popov.
Carlos is being persuaded to sign a contract for one season (2025) before this season begins, he added. "But if Sainz signs for the 2025 and 2026 seasons, then he will not join Audi for their first proper season.
He'll have to rack his brains over his next move.
As for Albon, he may balk at signing to be Leclerc's number 2 as he holds out for something even better - like succeeding either Lewis Hamilton or George Russell at Mercedes.
Three of the four leading teams have a top driver for many, many years to come - Red Bull with Verstappen, Ferrari with Leclerc, McLaren with Norris. But what about Mercedes? Popov said.
He said Hamilton, now 39, may retire after his new contract ends in late 2025 - with Toto Wolff perhaps no longer seeing Russell as a suitable successor.
In his first season at Mercedes, everything was great for George, Popov said. "In the second year he sank while Lewis showed who's boss.
So questions begin to rise - is Russell as good as he seemed? Is he Mercedes' future for the next seven or eight years? It seemed that Mercedes was the most stable team, but now they are still waiting and thinking.