Formula 1 rumours abound as a sensational return of Ferrari’s ‘prodigal son’ is on the cards. As the summer break draws to a close, the Formula One rumour mill continues to churn. The latest topic of explosive speculation revolves around a remarkable comeback for Ferrari who has yet to confirm Carlos Sainz as team mate to Charles Leclerc.
Charles Leclerc is said to be close to sealing a record-breaking deal, while Carlos Sainz is rumoured to be on the verge of a move. The ‘silly season’ in Formula One shows no signs of slowing down, especially when it comes to Ferrari.
Ferrari have reportedly agreed a contract extension with Charles Leclerc that will keep the Monegasque in the team. The deal is likely to see teammate Carlos Sainz Jr leave the team, with Ferrari pinning their long-term hopes on Leclerc rather than the Spaniard.
Sainz, who made a promising debut with Ferrari last year, saw his ambitions for further podiums and victories curtailed by the dominant Red Bull team, who had taken every win of the season to that point.
Having signed a contract with Ferrari until the end of the 2024 season, Sainz is determined to help the team rebuild and improve its performance. His ultimate goal remains to win the world championship, with more race wins and podium finishes in his sights.
Sainz to Audi?
Sainz’s future, in particular, has been a recurring theme in recent reports. Speculation has linked Sainz with both Sauber and Audi. There have even been rumours of a preliminary agreement with the successor to Alfa Romeo.
“One day, I aspire to be a world champion,” he affirmed after the last Grand Prix in Belgium. “My goal is to secure more wins. I’m here to compete at the highest level and leave a mark on this sport.”
One must question whether this ambition is with Ferrari, or elsewhere.
“I’m not going to lie, I don’t like going into my last year of a contract without really knowing where I’m racing the next year,” Sainz admitted during the Hungarian Grand Prix this year.
“I went through that process both with Red Bull and Renault, and I know it’s not ideal as an athlete, and as a driver. It’s just not the right thing. And that’s why I have put this winter as a reference to try and figure out my future,”
Audi deal for Sainz
Ex F1 driver Ralph Schumacher who is well connected within the F1 paddock believes Carlos relaxed attitude is because he knowns he will leave be leaving Ferrari.
“You get the feeling he has lost confidence in the team,” Schumacher remarked to Sky Germany.
“I hear rumours that his father is in the paddock looking for an alternative.
“Ferrari is facing quite a disaster at the moment.”
Carlos Sainz Snr is still closely connected to the VW Group from his rally world championship winning days, which could see his son recruited by their Audi brand soon to join Formula One.
“Audi will need a driver with Formula 1 experience by 2026,” Schumacher concludes.
Barretto thinks Sainz stays at Maranello
Meanwhile, respected Formula One journalist Lawrence Barretto, in a recent article on the sport’s leading website, highlighted Sainz’s high regard among Ferrari engineers and his favourable position for a contract extension beyond the 2024 deadline.
Leclerc confirms Barretto thoughts on the Sainz rumours saying it would be “wrong” for Sainz to change teams in the future, Marca quotes Leclerc as saying: “I can work well with Carlos, even if there is a lot of competition between us”.
The Spanish newspaper also reports that the two Formula One drivers also get on well off the track, which is why Leclerc is keen to see the pairing continue beyond 2024.
Sainz future in doubt at Ferrari?
Catalan newspaper El Nacional, on the other hand, is less optimistic about Sainz’s future with the most successful team in F1 history. Certainly being popular with the engineers in the team along with the other side of the garage won’t guarantee a commitment from the men in charge in Maranello.
According to the Spanish report, there have been no talks between the Maranello outfit and Sainz about an extended partnership. Instead, Ferrari are looking for a partner for Leclerc who can take the team’s internal competitiveness to a new level, and it seems they don’t see the former McLaren driver as being up to the task.
It was a challenging start to @McLarenF1's 2023 campaign….
We take a look back at the papaya team's highs and lows thus far 🎬👇#F1
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 15, 2023
Enter Fernando Alonso
In the midst of all this, another, even more prominent driver is said to be attracting considerable attention at Ferrari: Fernando Alonso, who drove the red car from 2010 to 2014.
Alonso, 42, is seen not only as a potential outperformer in the Ferrari ensemble compared to Sainz, but also as a strategic choice for the Ferrari management to guide Leclerc’s development.
Reports from El Nacional suggest that Alonso himself may not be averse to a return. His untitled stint with Ferrari still resonates, especially with his narrow misses in the Drivers’ World Championship, finishing second in 2010, 2012 and 2013.
A living legend of F1, he currently plies his trade with Aston Martin, having signed a multi-year deal last summer to succeed Sebastian Vettel.