Carlos Sainz has very much been the viewed as second best to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc since he joined the team from McLaren back in 2021. This despite the fact the Spaniard finished ahead of the Monegasque Ferrari pin up racer in his first year with the team and is currently 15 points ahead of Leclerc heading into this weekends Qatar Grand Prix.
Ferrari have been hit and miss all season and trail Mercedes for second in the constructors’ title race, but since their upgrade following the summer break have closed a gap that was once over 60 points down to just 20 with six events remaining.
Ferrari close in on Mercedes
Much of this success has been down to Sainz performances in Monza and Singapore where he claimed pole at Ferrari’s home Grand Prix and a podium finish behind the Red Bull pair.
Then in Singapore Sainz managed a less than optimum Ferrari strategy to hold off the chasing Mercedes to win the night race in the City State. Carlos cleverly ensured Lando Norris behind him stayed within 1 second and continued to benefit from the DRS which prevented the Mercedes’ cars on fresher rubber overtaking both the McLaren and Sainz who was leading on old tyres.
However, Sainz suggested he was unhappy with the Ferrari process for deciding his future during the summer claiming it made him uncomfortable starting a new season without a contract for the following year.
Both Sainz and Leclerc are contracted to Ferrari to drive in 2024, but their futures beyond then are still uncertain.
Carlos learns from previous F1 contracts
Sainz issued what was reported to be an ultimatum to Ferrari when he told assembled media at Silverstone:
“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.”
“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.”
But this was not just a call for Ferrari to sit down for discussions with Carlos, there was the implicit threat if the Italian team failed to do so he would look elsewhere for 2025.
Sainz threatens “to look elsewhere”
“My priority, and my main goal, is to win one day with Ferrari. And I think I’ve made that clear, very, very often. And that’s why I will give my priority to them this winter.
“If not, it will also be time to look elsewhere. But that’s my priority and what I want to sort out in the winter,” concluded Sainz.
Carlos has been linked repeatedly with a seat with new entrant Audi who are set to join the sport in 2026.
Of course Carlos has strengthened his hand with the Mona pole and the win in Singapore but he explains ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix that there has been ‘no time’ yet to discuss his future with the team.
Carlos restates his winter target
“It’s not a question of not wanting to renew, it’s just that we haven’t sat down,” Sainz told f1i.com
“We’ve been travelling all day and the priority is to finish the season in the best possible way.
“Why are you going to start negotiating with four months left in the winter when you can have time and calm? My future, I think I have said it several times, will be decided, or I will try to decide it, in [the] winter,” said Sainz in a renewed statement of intent.
However Sainz accepts that his performance in Italy and Singapore may not have affected in anyway the view Ferrari have on him as a driver. The Italian squad over the years have made some strange decisions regarding driver retention and recruitment and despite their current lineup looking like the best they can secure – there’s always ‘The Ferrari factor” to consider when discussing rationality.
Ferrari begged Hamilton to join
“If you’re in a good moment in your racing career, it’s always easier to negotiate than if you’re in a bad one,” Sainz continued. “But I don’t think the last few races have changed Ferrari’s view of me or my view of Ferrari.
“We both knew the ability and potential we have, and my view in [the] winter was going to be the same whether I won in Singapore or not. If I’m here it’s because someone will have valued me enough to be in the best team in history. The rest are subjective points of view.”
If recent revelations are to be believed, Ferrari made an open chequebook offer for Lewis Hamilton to join their squad when his contract with Mercedes expired at the end of this season.
Of course it would have been Sainz who was ditched a year early had Hamilton decided to move to Italy and so the Spaniard is right to push the boundary in terms of starting contract renewal talks this winter.
Few Ferrari juniors coming through
The Ferrari junior academy cupboard is at present pretty empty I terms of drivers already competing with other teams in Formula One.
Historically Alfa Romeo and Haas F1 have been where Ferrari blood their junior drivers before potentially promoting them on high, but currently the Italian team have no development drivers in Formula One.
Haas F1 have reverted to employing experienced drivers in Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen and Alfa Romeo have ex-Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas and ex-Alpine hopeful Zhou Guanyu.
Retaining Sainz should be “no brainer”
Ferrari’s best hope in the junior category at present is Oliver Bearman yet despite early season form he now sits in 6th in the F2 championship some 60 points behind the leader Theo Pourchaire.
The brother of Charles, Arthur Leclerc is also racing in F1 and is registered with Ferrari but he is a work in progress at present and sits 15th in the championship around 150 points behind the leader.
So Ferrari have little coming through their pipeline for 2025 and in a rational world of F1, it should be a no brainer to retain Sainz for at least another season.
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