Key Door Set To Close For Carlos Sainz

240031 Scuderia Ferrari Chinese Gp Friday - Carlos Sainz
240031 Scuderia Ferrari Chinese Gp Friday - Carlos Sainz

A key door seems to have closed for Carlos Sainz, amid new rumours that Red Bull has agreed a new single-season deal for Sergio Perez next year.

It is believed the Ferrari-departing Spaniard recently let a deadline set by Audi-owned Sauber pass, as he holds out for better options at Red Bull and Mercedes.

But another rumour is that Toto Wolff is only offering Sainz, 29, a single-year offer to race at Mercedes next year – keeping the door open for the team chief’s 17-year-old protege Kimi Antonelli for 2026.

“All the stories about Kimi do him no good,” Wolff said, “because he has to focus on Formula 1.

“He’s doing a lot of tests for us to get up to speed, but a decision will only be made in a few weeks or even months.”

If Antonelli is fast-tracked into F1 with Mercedes-powered Williams this year, it is expected that he will have to wait until Monza – when he will be eligible for a super license in the wake of his 18th birthday.

Wolff insists he is currently waiting to see if Max Verstappen suddenly emerges on the 2025 market.

“If I were Max, I wouldn’t leave the (Red Bull) team, at least not in 2025,” the Austrian admits, “but it’s in his hands.

“He is the best driver now, and that is also why he is the one who has to make the choice.”

Former Haas boss Gunther Steiner agrees: “Red Bull will still have a good car in 2025, with or without Adrian Newey.”

Amid all the rumours, Sainz’s father, namesake and advisor – rally legend Carlos Sainz – told Auto Bild: “There is a lot of speculation at the moment, but there is nothing to report yet.”

As for Mexican Perez, the 34-year-old sounds confident he will be retained by Red Bull.

“I think until you have the paper fully signed, everything remains an option,” he said last weekend in Miami. “But I believe it’s just a matter of time.”

So with Sainz’s options apparently narrowing, Audi-Sauber is reportedly now telling the three-time grand prix winner that he can have until the Monaco GP to decide if he wants to become Nico Hulkenberg’s teammate from 2025.

If he turns it down, disgruntled Alpine duo Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly are regarded as Audi’s other top options.

“Carlos is having a great season and is rightly being courted by many teams,” Hulkenberg, who recently signed a multi-year Audi contract, told Sport Bild.

“He was already fast when we were together at Renault and has learned a lot since then,” the German added. “But ultimately it is not my decision who will be my teammate.”

Sauber-Audi team representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi said: “There is Carlos, there are our two drivers, and there are other drivers as well.

“And we have to understand it, because we are making a decision that will not only affect 2025 but also the future of the official Audi team.”

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