How Audi’s strengthening Sainz bond could seep into F1 plans

Jamie Woodhouse
Carlos Sainz and the Audi logo on a Formula 1 rear wing.

Carlos Sainz and the Audi logo.

Carlos Sainz Snr has just made history by taking Audi to the Dakar Rally summit for the first time. But could this have F1-related implications down the road for his son over at Ferrari?

The clock was ticking for Audi, as 2024 represented their final attempt to win the ultimate rally raid competition, Saudi Arabia’s Dakar Rally.

But, with Carlos Sainz Snr at the wheel, they had the best racer for the job, a three-time winner of this event with three different brands prior to this year’s event. He’s only gone and done it again!

Strengthening Sainz-Audi bond foreshadowing of F1 future?

At the wheel of Audi’s RS Q e-tron, Sainz Snr has sent the German marque out very much on a high, as focus now fully switches to their upcoming Formula 1 entry from 2026.

And after this historic Sainz-Audi achievement, could we see the next generation of the story play out on the F1 battlefield?

There is another Carlos Sainz shining in the racing world, as Sainz jnr challenges himself and Ferrari to complete a spot of history re-making themselves, that being to end the Scuderia’s title barren spell in F1 2024, which has been ongoing since 2008.

However, this would be his last season in Ferrari red as it stands, the talk from both sides of a new contract coming yet to be turned into a signature on the dotted line, and the rumours that Audi could look to snare him for their F1 project continue to persist.

Sauber, or Stake F1 Team as they’re calling themselves for the next few seasons, will become Audi in 2026, and the against-all-odds heroics of Carlos Sainz Snr in Dakar can hardly have hindered the chances of his son getting the call for Audi’s F1 venture.

After all, it is not like they would be taking him on as a favour to his dad. Carlos Sainz Jnr is a two-time grand prix winner and perhaps one of the most underrated drivers on the F1 grid, a very dangerous proposition to sleep on indeed.

This Dakar triumph may just strengthen the bond between the two parties and come to fruition again later down the line in F1. The historical link now firmly established. recommends

F1 2026: Confirmed teams and power unit suppliers for F1’s huge regulation changes

The 14 drivers out of contract at the end of the F1 2024 season

Carlos Sainz takes ‘age just a number’ to new heights

The Sainz-Audi Dakar 2024 win represents further history-making moments courtesy of the legendary Spaniard, who at 61 years old, has beat his own record for the oldest winner of the event.

The innovative electric-powered RS Q e-tron was fancied by very few, but made undeniable with Sainz at the wheel as victory was claimed by 1 hour, 20 minutes and 25 seconds over runner-up Guillaume de Mevius in the Overdrive Toyota.

That means Sainz has claimed Dakar victory with four different manufacturers; Volkswagen, Peugeot, Mini and now Audi, flying the flag for a growing racing generation where old age and poor performance no longer seem to coincide.

Sainz rightly was delighted with the achievement, certainly not born out of the easiest route as doubters were proven very wrong.

“I’m very happy, as you can imagine,” he was quoted by “To win, but above all with this very special car, so complicated to get ready to win, for a different fourth brand, with so many people who did not believe in it and in its last attempt.

“All of this means that when you work hard, believe in yourself and are surrounded by a good team, you get the fruits of your work.

“If I’m here at my age, still at this level, it’s because I’ve worked hard before and I haven’t stopped believing in myself. It hasn’t happened that way for the sake of it.

“The key to victory was to have a good speed, pace and a good strategy. We’re a great team and I also have a great co-driver [Lucas Cruz]. It means a lot to me. I’m going to savour this victory and think about the next steps in my career over the next few weeks.”

Cleary still at the peak of his powers, why stop there? Age is just a number as they say, continuously proven by racing machines like Sainz, seven-time F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton [39] and two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso [42].

Alonso and Hamilton, no excuses now, we expect to see you on that F1 grid in your 60s!

Read next: Why Ford’s relationship with Red Bull should worry their US rivals