Audi or Williams? Carlos Sainz ‘nudged’ in one direction amidst 2026 uncertainty

Michelle Foster
Carlos Sainz smiles with prominent Williams and Audi logos alongside him

Is Carlos Sainz's F1 future edging closer to being resolved?

Reportedly deciding between Audi and Williams for F1 2025, Tom Clarkson says he would “nudge” Carlos Sainz in Williams’ direction with their “tried-and-test” Mercedes power unit.

Dropped by Ferrari even before the first race of this season, Sainz’s options for F1 2025 have dwindled since the February announcement.

Williams with its Mercedes engine backed to be ‘quicker out of the box’ in 2026

Red Bull and Aston Martin took themselves out of the running as they re-signed Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso respectively while the much-speculated straight swap with Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes is also off the table.

Mercedes are instead expected to sign junior driver Andrea Kimi Antonelli after Toto Wolff all but ruled out Sainz as he spoke of his plan to “reinvent” Mercedes, and Antonelli “definitely plays a part in that.”

Left with a choice between Audi and Williams, Sainz has been urged to take up the latter, especially in light of F1 2026’s all-new power unit regulations.

Williams run Mercedes engines and the last time new engines were introduced in 2014 it was the Brackley squad who gained a march over their rivals, whereas for Audi, F1 2026 will be the German manufacturer’s very first season as a power unit supplier and works team.

“I would nudge him in the direction of Williams, because I think there is still a lot up in the air with regard to the 2026 regulations,” Tom Clarkson told the F1 Nation podcast.

“I think for an Audi team coming in doing it with a power unit for the first time… With so much up in the air, a tried-and-test manufacturer got it right last time there was a regulation change, I think will be quicker out of the box in 2026 than Audi.

“So that’s the direction I’d go in.

“I think he’d work well with Vowles, I think he’d work very well with Pat Fry, the technical director, and he’d work very well with Albon.”

More on Carlos Sainz and his F1 future

👉Carlos Sainz Williams contract length revealed with key break clause – report

👉Carlos Sainz to Williams: Five reasons why rumoured F1 2025 move isn’t as crazy as it sounds

According to reports, Williams have put a four-year deal on the table that includes an exit clause after year two should Williams fail to make strides forward.

“I quite like the romantic notion of making Williams great again,” said Natalie Pinkham. “And I really like the idea of Alex and Carlos teaming up because I think they will work well together.

“It’s a tough one isn’t it? A tough call to make.

“How much goes on relationships? James Vowles has worked with some incredible drivers at Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton being one of them.

“He’s an astute guy. I think perhaps that’s a big draw for Carlos knowing about James’ big intentions and ambitions for the team.

“I believe him, I buy into his dream and his long-term goal for Williams.

“But Audi is the same. Andreas Seidl is a great guy. They obviously worked together at McLaren and, I gather, got on very well there.”

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