Carlos Sainz could run out of time for Audi response

Why Carlos Sainz must tread carefully in the F1 market.

Since 2023, Carlos Sainz has been the only non-Red Bull driver to win an F1 race. The Spaniard claimed Ferrari’s sole victory last year in Singapore, whilst he secured an early win with the SF-24 in Australia. Combined with his overall performance against the immensely talented Charles Leclerc, these factors make Sainz a valuable driver in the market. However, there are reports emerging that Audi is running out of patience.

Sainz looks to capitalise on any opportunities

It is easy to see why Audi has been so determined to get the 29-year-old on board. As a three-time race winner in his prime years, Sainz would undoubtedly be a huge signing. His arrival would be indicative of the German manufacturer’s ambitions in F1. That said, he is yet to respond to Audi’s contract offer.

Sainz’s agent has revealed that he is still “playing the game” and juggling different options. This seems proof that other vacancies on the grid – mainly at Red Bull and Mercedes – still have the Spaniard’s attention. Red Bull continues to evaluate Sergio Perez, who is under pressure to sustain his solid start to 2024. The Austrian team has outlined that no decision will be made before the summer break.

Depending on how the next few rounds transpire, Sainz’s chances with the reigning Champions could increase.

This is where the predicament lies for Sainz. On the one hand, there is a guaranteed offer at Audi should he want it. Andreas Seidl has made the Spaniard’s arrival at Hinwil a top priority. The 9th-placed team can offer a handsome salary and the stability of a long-term agreement.

Audi have several drivers to choose from

However, Audi wants a response sooner rather than later. In fact, Spanish outlet El Confidencial reports that Audi’s contract is no longer on the table. Although this is unverified, it still speaks to the urgency of the situation. Looking for a deal with an established front-runner could jeopardise the already well-established interest in his services.

To be explicitly clear, it is unknown if and when Audi will officially turn away from Sainz and look elsewhere. That said, the Hinwil-based squad could pursue others in the field – such as Esteban Ocon. Of course, this does not suggest Sainz is not highly sought-after. Ultimately, however, there are several free agents Audi can select from.

Therefore, Carlos Sainz must navigate negotiations carefully. Last week’s announcement of Nico Hulkenberg’s deal can be interpreted as an indication that contract talks will ramp up.

In this environment, taking a risk and waiting for openings elsewhere could pay off. After all, there are 2025 seats available at more established outfits where Sainz is under consideration. At the same time, waiting on offers that may never arrive could leave the #55 driver vulnerable and caught out.


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