‘Highly-rated’ driver on Ferrari radar if Carlos Sainz deal falls through

Thomas Maher
Carlos Sainz in the garage in Las Vegas.

Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari garage.

Should Carlos Sainz and Ferrari go their separate ways at the end of 2024, a potential replacement from the midfield has been mooted.

Sainz is entering the final year of his current contract with Ferrari, with both sides indicating a willingness to continue beyond this season if terms can be agreed.

If a deal can’t be finalised to continue the partnership, Ferrari will have no shortage of options given how many driver contracts are up for renewal – but one particular name could be a possibility as a target.

Lawrence Barretto: Alex Albon highly-rated and available

According to a report from Lawrence Barretto, a senior journalist with the official Formula 1 website, Albon is highly-rated by the Scuderia and his name has been linked as a possible replacement for Sainz if the Spaniard doesn’t continue with Maranello.

“Sources say contract talks with Leclerc are taking precedence, with the Scuderia keen to ensure the driver they handed a huge contract for the last cycle continues his stay at the Prancing Horse for the foreseeable,” he wrote in a round-up article on the driver market.

“Once that is done and dusted, Ferrari is likely to move quickly to lock Sainz down.

“The Spaniard is keen on a two-year deal to give stability and take him into the first season of the new rules cycle (in 2026) where Ferrari has a chance to make a big leap forward.

“If an agreement can’t be made, Ferrari has no shortage of options to look upon with Alex Albon possibly one of the most highly-rated that is available. But as it stands, retaining Leclerc and Sainz is understood to be the priority.”

Alex Albon’s contract is understood to be ending at the conclusion of 2024, with the British/Thai driver having an option for a further season in 2025.

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According to a report from ESPN, Albon is looking to free himself from Williams at the end of 2024, and allege two unnamed teams have already made unsuccessful attempts to land him into their driver line-ups.

Albon, whose career was revitalised by a year on the sidelines in 2021 as he contributed towards Red Bull’s championship success as a simulator and test driver, has been branded a “big part of the puzzle” when it comes to the driver market in F1 2024.

But the prospect of Albon jumping back into a potentially front-running car is largely dependent on Sainz and his future. Speaking at a sponsor event last month, Sainz said he feels valued by Ferrari and team boss Fred Vasseur – which is something very important to him as contract talks begin.

“We have to agree, and we have three months ahead of us to do it,” he said.

“Until the first race of the World Championship. Obviously, I want to renew and I would like to do it for more than a year. I feel perfectly valued by Fred and the entire Ferrari family and as a driver, that is your main priority.”

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