Carlos Sainz could be reunited with Max Verstappen at Red Bull if his Ferrari contract is not extended beyond the F1 2024 season, it has been claimed.
Sainz has enjoyed a respectable level of success since arriving at Ferrari in 2021, claiming his first F1 victory at the 2022 British Grand Prix before becoming the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race in 2023 in Singapore.
However, the futures of Sainz and team-mate Charles Leclerc are uncertain with the contracts of both Ferrari drivers set to expire at the end of next season.
Red Bull to turn to Carlos Sainz as Sergio Perez replacement?
While Leclerc is expected to agree a new long-term deal, the future of Sainz is said to be less clear.
Sainz has frequently reiterated his desire to have his future resolved before the start of the 2024 season, with the Spaniard repeatedly linked with a move to 2026 entrants Audi in recent months.
Yet a report by Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport claims that Sainz – a product of Red Bull’s junior driver scheme – could replace Sergio Perez as Verstappen’s team-mate in 2025.
A return to McLaren, where he enjoyed a successful two-year stint in 2019/20, is also a possibility for the 29-year-old, while Audi – in search of a “a driver of high level and experience” for their 2026 arrival with Sauber – cannot be ruled out.
While Leclerc is set to agree a five-year extension taking him to the end of 2029, the negotiations with Sainz are said to be more complicated as the driver is pushing for a two-year deal.
It remains to be seen whether Ferrari will meet his demands or instead offer a one-year extension until the end of 2025, which would allow the team to make an approach for Sainz’s former team-mate Lando Norris, whose current McLaren contract will expire at that point.
Sainz arrived on the F1 grid as Verstappen’s team-mate with Red Bull junior team Toro Rosso in 2015, with the pair relatively evenly matched during their first year in the sport.
Verstappen was promoted to the Red Bull senior team after just four races of 2016, with reports at the time suggesting the competitive tension between Verstappen and Sainz had resulted in an unhealthy atmosphere at Toro Rosso.
Sainz spent one more season at Toro Rosso before switching to Renault, where he was ousted at the end of 2018 following the team’s capture of Verstappen’s then-Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, before rising to prominence with McLaren in 2019/20.
His performances for McLaren, where he registered two podium finishes at Brazil 2019 and Italy 2020, saw Sainz selected as Sebastian Vettel’s replacement at Ferrari for 2021.
Perez has seen his seat at Red Bull come under huge scrutiny after a calamitous 2023 season in which he recorded just nine podium finishes – including victories in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan – as team-mate Verstappen won 19 of 22 races.
With his Red Bull contract set to expire at the end of 2024, next season could be the last in F1 for Perez, who will turn 34 in January and arrived on the grid with Sauber in 2011.