Rumours have surfaced suggesting that Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz has initiated pre-contract negotiations with Audi for the 2025 Formula 1 season, signaling a potential departure from his current team.
Sainz, who is approaching the end of his current contract with Ferrari, has reportedly taken a preliminary step towards exploring alternative options, spurred on no doubt by the monster deal Charles Leclerc appears to have secured with Ferrari.
Huge Leclerc deal seals Sainz fate
Leclerc is set to secure a substantial new contract with an estimated total value of approximately $200 million, complete with provisions that could potentially keep him with the Maranello-based team until 2029. The move comes in response to Leclerc’s recent interactions with rival teams about his future in Formula One, prompting Ferrari to act swiftly to safeguard their prized asset. The new deal effectively overrides Leclerc’s existing agreement, which was scheduled to conclude at the end of 2024.
Reports indicate that Leclerc engaged in talks with Mercedes, Aston Martin, and Red Bull, stoking concerns within the Ferrari camp that he might be lured away to fill the shoes of Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes. Sportune revealed that these discussions prompted Ferrari to take decisive action in securing their young star’s commitment.
Ferrari’s current challenge arises from the convergence of contract expiration dates for both Leclerc and his teammate Carlos Sainz, which has created a delicate situation for the newly appointed team boss, Fred Vasseur. Vasseur, previously the team principal at Sauber, was instrumental in Leclerc’s early career development and is believed to have a favourable disposition towards the young Monegasque driver.
Sainz looks to Audi
Recent comments by Ralph Schumacher on German TV have fueled speculation of a potential Audi entry into Formula One in 2026. The involvement of Carlos Sainz Sr., a figure with close ties to the Volkswagen Group through rallying, could indicate an opportunity for an experienced driver in Formula One, potentially affecting the prospects of drivers like Daniel Ricciardo, who is currently undergoing an evaluation phase with AlphaTauri.
The Red Bull junior team has granted Ricciardo until the end of the season to demonstrate his capability after a challenging period at McLaren.
Sainz signs up for Audi ‘pre-contract’
According to a report by AutoAction, the Spanish driver has signed a pre-contract agreement with Audi. While such an agreement may not be legally binding, it indicates that Sainz is actively considering his prospects beyond Ferrari. This move has brought a potential switch to Sauber for the 2025 season into sharper focus.
Speaking at the Belgian Grand Prix, Sainz expressed his preference for entering a new season with a clear destination for the following year already in place.
“I do prefer starting a season already knowing where I’m going to be the following year,” he stated in an interview with AutoAction.
The ongoing speculation links Sainz with a potential move to the Alfa Romeo team, which will transition to the Audi banner in 2026 following Audi’s complete takeover of the Hinwil-based outfit.
Earlier this year, Sainz had dismissed similar rumors regarding his potential move to Audi, labeling them as “uncorroborated and invented rumours.”
He had previously affirmed his desire to continue with Ferrari for an extended period, emphasizing his contentment with the team.
Currently, Alfa Romeo fields Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu as its drivers. Bottas is under contract with Alfa Romeo until the end of 2025, aligning with Audi’s takeover, while Zhou is reportedly close to securing a contract extension for the upcoming season, according to Formu1uno.