JANUARY 29, 2024
Will Sainz stay or make Audi F1 switch?
Sauber, the Formula 1 outfit known as Alfa Romeo last year that in 2024 will be called 'Stake F1 Team', intends to clear out its driver lineup at the end of the season.
That is the claim of the authoritative and highly respected long-time F1 correspondent Roger Benoit, as the sport turns its attention to future driver lineups ahead of the 2024 season.
Charles Leclerc has been extended at Ferrari, while Lando Norris has been similarly locked up for the next several seasons by McLaren.
All eyes are now on Carlos Sainz, amid rumours he is tossing up between a new Ferrari deal for 2025 or a switch to Sauber - ahead of its transition to Audi in 2026.
Has Sainz informed Ferrari about a possible move to Audi-Sauber? Benoit wrote in the Swiss newspaper Blick.
A year ago, Blick revealed that there was close contact between the Sainz family and Sauber CEO Andreas Seidl for the future of Audi. What is clear is that the new team (Audi) is certainly not planning its 2025 pre-season with (Valtteri) Bottas and (Guanyu) Zhou again, he added.
It is said that Alpine's Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon are also options for Audi, as is Williams' Alex Albon.
Italian newspaper La Repubblica, meanwhile, believes Sainz is actually close to deciding to stay at Ferrari on a new two-year contract for 2025 and 2026.
Corriere della Sera, however, thinks Sainz and Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur are yet to reach an agreement.
Mario Salvini, writing in La Gazzetta dello Sport, explained: "Presumably, the reason something is still missing between Ferrari and Carlos must be a dispute over the length of the contract.
It is likely that he is looking for another two-year contract, although he is not lacking alternatives.
Another of same newspaper's F1 correspondents, Luigi Perna, thinks Vasseur
would like the Spaniard's signature before the start of the season, for the sake of the internal climate.
But having bet on Leclerc for so long is a sign of the internal hierarchy - will his teammate accept the terms? he added.
Eddie Irvine, arguably most famous for having been Michael Schumacher's clear 'number 2' driver, is quoted as saying: "It's clear that Leclerc has a bit more talent.
"Sainz had some good races, he has won, he has been competitive compared to his teammate. But Charles is clearly the better of the two.
The fact that he (Leclerc) lacked a victory last year doesn't change my opinion. At the end of the season, when the car had developed, he showed all of his value.