Carlos Sainz in Talks With Red Bull, Helmut Marko Says, While Audi Offer Looms

The soon-to-be former Ferrari driver is being pursued by a number of teams, including the reigning constructors' champion.
Nov 15, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Scuderia Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz of Spain speaks to reporters.
Nov 15, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Scuderia Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz of Spain speaks to reporters. / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

After the announcement of Lewis Hamilton's blockbuster move to Ferrari next season, the F1 driver carousel continues to spin, but the sights of the grid are squarely focused on the next domino poised to fall: Carlos Sainz.

Sainz, who will be pushed out of the Italian outfit to make way for the seven-time world champion in 2025, has been candid about his search for a new team, noting Thursday that a number of opportunities are still on the table. Among the options is a move to reigning constructors' champion Red Bull, motorsport consultant Helmut Marko confirmed on Thursday.

However, the pursuit of Sainz won't come without some competition from others vying for his services.

"We're talking to him, he's having his strongest season in Formula One," Marko said to Austria'sKleine Zeitung newspaper ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix. "But he has a very lucrative offer from Audi that we can't match or beat."

Audi will officially join the F1 grid in 2026 upon competition of a takeover of Sauber, which is scoreless through four races.

Marko is right to compliment Sainz on his start to this year's campaign. The Madrid native notched the only race win by a driver other than Red Bull's Max Verstappen this season at the Australian Grand Prix and has seemed to have the upper hand on Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc to start the year. Sainz currently sits fourth in the drivers' standings with 55 points, but would have been well setup for a larger tally had he not missed the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix due to appendicitis.

Though Sainz is an option for Red Bull in 2025, he's not the only driver of interest. Among the others connected to the second seat are Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoa of RB, formerly known as AlphaTauri and Toro Rosso.

Marko also acknowledged that Red Bull could simply renew the contract of Sergio Pérez, the team's second driver who also currently holds second place in the drivers' standings.

"If he maintains these performances like those in qualifying in Japan, then he is certainly the best option for 2025 at Red Bull," Marko said of Pérez.

"He is a worker for the team and has now also realized that the radically different path he took last year with set-up was the wrong one. Now the car is closer to Max's set-up and that helps him."

Zach Koons