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Sainz in F1 limbo after stunning Hamilton move

Sainz in F1 limbo after stunning Hamilton move

F1 News

Sainz in F1 limbo after stunning Hamilton move

Sainz in F1 limbo after stunning Hamilton move

The news of Lewis Hamilton's decision to join Ferrari for the 2025 season sent tidal waves rippling through the heart of Formula 1.

Its impact could only be compared in recent times to that of Nico Rosberg's sudden retirement from the sport in 2016, or Hamilton's switch from McLaren to the underperforming Mercedes team back in 2013.

While it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of one of the most successful drivers in F1 history joining the most iconic team and creating a mouthwatering partnership with Charles Leclerc, spare a thought for Carlos Sainz.

The Spaniard had been publicly told by Ferrari chairman that he was just as much a part of the Maranello-based outfit's long-term future as Leclerc, and certainly would have hoped to challenge the Monegasque driver for world championships in the future.

Now, Sainz may feel a little unwanted and lost, something that seemed inconceivable just a few months ago, when Sainz became the only non-Red Bull driver to claim a main race victory in 2023.

Lewis Hamilton is set to join Ferrari in 2025
In a stunning switch of fortunes, Carlos Sainz is now currently without a drive for 2025
The seven-time world champion has been poached by Fred Vasseur to take Carlos Sainz's seat

Sainz's next career move crucial

That particular performance at the Singapore Grand Prix had pundits and fellow drivers alike suggesting that Leclerc could no longer be considered the number one driver at Ferrari.

Indeed, as it turned out, Leclerc did manage to finish ahead of Sainz in the 2023 drivers' championship, but only by a meagre margin of six points.

During the three seasons in which the pair have spent together at Ferrari so far, Sainz narrowly beat Leclerc in 2021, before the 26-year-old returned the favour in the next two seasons.

Leclerc has three race victories in that time, while Sainz has one fewer with two. In this sense, everything points to a close title battle between the pair if Ferrari could produce a car capable of challenging for such achievements.

So why do Ferrari want to make the move? Well, that's for another article but where Sainz heads next is likely to make or break the career of a man whose full talent has never seemed to quite be unleashed.

READ MORE: F1 2024 car launches: Dates, times and how to watch live

Sainz Red Bull Perez replacement?

Sergio Perez could be on his way out of the door at Red Bull

Now 29 years old, Sainz's career probably rests on his next contract, particularly as it will likely take the Spaniard into the new era of F1 regulations in 2026, when it will be crucial for drivers to back the right horse.

With a seat now up for grabs at Mercedes alongside George Russell, that would surely make the most sense for the Brackley-based team to head in the direction of Sainz, but would that make the most sense for the Spaniard?

Sainz has the option of waiting for Audi's arrival into F1 in 2026, if he joins the Sauber-owned team at the end of 2024. It would be a huge gamble, but he would likely be the star of that particular team rather than playing second fiddle to another big name.

Or, there's the tantalising prospect of a reunion with three-time world champion Max Verstappen at Red Bull.

Sainz is a former junior Red Bull driver, and the pair shared a fairly fiery relationship while both starting their F1 careers together at Toro Rosso (now Visa Cash App RB) back in 2015.

Sergio Perez's current contract is due to expire at the end of 2024, and there are many rumours that the Mexican's time with the world champions could be all but confirmed to be over once the upcoming season has transpired.

This would also throw another opportunity into the mix for Sainz to become the face of Red Bull's sister team's new era as VCARB, particularly if Red Bull decide that they wanted to head in the direction of Daniel Ricciardo to replace Perez.

READ MORE: Ricciardo admits being 'ready to go' ahead of Red Bull return

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