Ranked: Carlos Sainz’s remaining options in quest for F1 2025 seat

Sam Cooper
Carlos Sainz

Carlos Sainz is running out of options for 2025.

At the start of the season, Carlos Sainz was the grid’s most eligible driver but now he is finding his options limited.

With Sergio Perez confirmed for the Red Bull seat next season, Carlos Sainz is running out of options for his drive in 2025. The current Ferrari driver must find a new home for next year having been replaced by Lewis Hamilton, so here are his six options left based on how likely we think they are.

6th: RB

Starting off with what we think is least likely would be a move back to Faenza to join RB.

Sainz last drove for this constructor in 2017 and both have changed a lot since then.

The team have altered their name not once but twice and while Toro Rosso was firmly a Red Bull proving ground during Sainz’s days, now they are somewhere in between that and a standalone outfit.

Sainz meanwhile would see moving to RB as a considerable step down from where he is now. Unlike Daniel Ricciardo who made his own return last year, Sainz’s stock is on the up so a move to essentially a second team does not seem likely at this stage.

5th: Haas

There is no doubt Haas would want Sainz in their team as he would become the best driver they have ever had but they will have a tough task convincing him.

From a performance point of view, Haas may have surprised many this season but their seven points so far show they are not in the top bracket yet.

And while others in this list may have even fewer points, they at least have big plans to move up the grid while Gene Haas has been more restrained in his targets.

From a financial perspective, signing Sainz will also be a significant chunk of the team’s budget. Depending on who you believe, Sainz’s Ferrari deal is around $12 million a season while Haas’ highest earner Kevin Maggnussen is forecast around the $5 million mark.

4th: Alpine

The team that could arguably do with Sainz the most is Alpine, who are on the hunt for a new driver following Esteban Ocon’s confirmed departure.

A pairing of Pierre Gasly and Sainz would be very strong but the French outfit may struggle to convince the latter to swap Maranello for Enstone.

Engine problems mixed with a disastrous start to the 2024 season has seen the French team’s stock fall quite dramatically and their rebuild will need to show more progress before they can entice the likes of Sainz over.

3rd: Mercedes

They may have had a difficult few years but the allure of joining Mercedes is still there, especially with the new engine regulations on the horizon.

Mercedes’ strength is undoubtedly their power unit, as seen by McLaren this year, so they are as good as any to bet on to come out strongest when the new engine changes come in 2026.

For Sainz, a move to Mercedes represents his final chance to join a team with realistic title ambitions and one that has been there and done it all before.

If moving to a team like Alpine or Williams is a leap of faith then moving to Mercedes is one too – but one that seems more likely to come off.

But right now, it seems the Silver Arrows are not entirely keen on bringing Sainz in at this early stage. The option for them is whether they go for an experienced name like Sainz or they go radical and put Kimi Antonelli in the car hoping the Italian can be Mercedes’ Max Verstappen.

2nd: Williams

An option that would appear to be becoming more realistic with each passing day is a move to Williams.

Making that statement even a few years ago would have been outlandish but James Vowles’ project is undoubtedly one that has ambitions to move up the grid.

The Williams boss has already managed to convince Alex Albon to sign on so what’s to say he could not do something similar with Sainz?

Sky F1 commentator David Croft suggested Williams were one of two teams Sainz is considering.

“He [Vowles] knows that nothing is going to happen overnight, it’s going to take a little while, and he is selling a dream,” Croft said on the Sky F1 podcast.

“He sold a dream to Alex Albon. Not just him, I think Alex also has a lot of faith in that Mercedes power unit for 2026.

“And can he get Carlos Sainz? Well, the answer to that is yes, he can. It’s not about money, I spoke to the Sainz camp on this one, and he’s got a decision: Audi or Williams.”

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1: Audi

But the most realistic decision would be the one that has always seemed the most natural move.

Audi have not been shy in their desire for Sainz and Carlos Sainz Snr’s links with the team only make such a transfer all the more likely.

The main sticking point appears to be how competitive the team is in 2025 which, unless something drastically changes, would appear to be not very.

Sainz, in the form of his life at Ferrari, is understandably hesitant about essentially sacrificing a year to gamble that Audi will hit the ground running but as the doors close around him, joining the German giant looks more favourable.

With Nico Hulkenberg already confirmed, the arrival of Sainz would give Audi a very strong line up for their F1 debut – all they need to do now is convince Sainz to take the plunge.

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