(GMM) Sauber, the Formula 1 outfit known as Alfa Romeo last year that in 2024 will be called ‘Stake F1 Team’, intends to clear out its driver lineup at the end of the season.
That is the claim of the authoritative and highly respected long-time F1 correspondent Roger Benoit, as the sport turns its attention to future driver lineups ahead of the 2024 season.
Charles Leclerc has been extended at Ferrari, while Lando Norris has been similarly locked up for the next several seasons by McLaren.
All eyes are now on Carlos Sainz Jr., amid rumors he is tossing up between a new Ferrari deal for 2025 or a switch to Sauber – ahead of its transition to Audi in 2026.
“Has Sainz informed Ferrari about a possible move to Audi-Sauber?” Benoit wrote in the Swiss newspaper Blick.
“A year ago, Blick revealed that there was close contact between the Sainz family and Sauber CEO Andreas Seidl for the future of Audi. What is clear is that the new team (Audi) is certainly not planning its 2025 pre-season with (Valtteri) Bottas and (Guanyu) Zhou again,” he added.
It is said that Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon are also options for Audi, as is Williams’ Alex Albon.
Italian newspaper La Repubblica, meanwhile, believes Sainz is actually close to deciding to stay at Ferrari on a new two-year contract for 2025 and 2026.
Corriere della Sera, however, thinks Sainz and Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur are yet to reach an agreement.
Mario Salvini, writing in La Gazzetta dello Sport, explained: “Presumably, the reason something is still missing between Ferrari and Carlos must be a dispute over the length of the contract.
“It is likely that he is looking for another two-year contract, although he is not lacking alternatives.”
Another of same newspaper’s F1 correspondents, Luigi Perna, thinks Vasseur “would like the Spaniard’s signature before the start of the season, for the sake of the internal climate”.
“But having bet on Leclerc for so long is a sign of the internal hierarchy – will his teammate accept the terms?” he added.
Eddie Irvine, arguably most famous for having been Michael Schumacher’s clear ‘number 2’ driver, is quoted as saying: “It’s clear that Leclerc has a bit more talent.
“Sainz had some good races, he has won, he has been competitive compared to his teammate. But Charles is clearly the better of the two.
“The fact that he (Leclerc) lacked a victory last year doesn’t change my opinion. At the end of the season, when the car had developed, he showed all of his value.”
January 22, 2024
(GMM) Carlos Sainz’s famous father says he will sit down with the Ferrari driver to discuss the benefits of potentially joining the Audi family.
Sainz, 29, was at the finish line on the final stage of the Dakar rally last weekend, where his father and namesake won the event for the fourth time.
61-year-old rally legend Sainz senior was driving an Audi, with the Volkswagen-owned German marque also set to enter Formula 1 with Sauber for 2026.
As Sainz jr, he is currently pushing hard for a contract extension at Ferrari for 2025 and beyond, with the Maranello team rumored to be dithering over a new deal in order to prioritize Charles Leclerc.
Sainz has been linked with a potential move to Audi for months and his father agrees that every F1 driver, not just his son, “must have a lot of respect for the brand”.
“Audi, I think, is a guarantee, as I know very well how seriously they take each project,” Sainz snr told motor.es.
“I also know very well what the German mentality implies in the world of motorsport, with its advantages and certain disadvantages,” he added. “But we have to respect the Volkswagen group and Audi.”
Audi is in the process of a 75 percent takeover of the Swiss F1 team Sauber, and Sainz snr admits that it may take time for the project to bear fruit.
“We all know that F1 is a bit of a special world,” he said. “But I think it will only be a matter of time before they succeed.
“I don’t have a crystal ball, but if Audi is in F1, it has all the respect from me. And I think they will put all the effort into making it a good project.”
And so Sainz snr admits he will explain the potential benefits of a move to Audi to his son.
“Of course, with me being in the Audi family, when I am at Carlos’ house it is logical that we talk and exchange opinions about what the Audi team can be in the future,” he said.