Carlos Sainz Ferrari Extension Getting Complicated

2021 Austrian Grand Prix, Sunday - Carlos Sainz & Charles Leclerc (image courtesy Ferrari press office)
2021 Austrian Grand Prix, Sunday - Carlos Sainz & Charles Leclerc (image courtesy Ferrari press office)

Carlos Sainz‘s discussions with Ferrari regarding a contract extension past 2024 “have become complicated.”

This comes from the esteemed Italian publication Corriere dello Sport, which suggests that the Spanish driver might leave Maranello when the year concludes.

This development follows Ferrari’s commitment to Charles Leclerc through a new, extensive, and financially rewarding contract, which is seen as an effort to subtly shift away from the team’s previous stance under Mattia Binotto of treating both drivers as equal ‘number 1s’.

“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 baulk 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.”

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