Carlos Sainz overlooks Audi in apparent Red Bull, Mercedes pursuit – report

Thomas Maher
Carlos Sainz and the logos of Audi, Red Bull and Mercedes alongside him

Could Carlos Sainz reject an offer from Audi to pursue opportunities at Red Bull and Mercedes?

According to reports in Spanish media, Carlos Sainz may have already turned down Audi in favour of pursuing a seat elsewhere.

The Ferrari driver, who has not yet secured a seat on the F1 2025 grid following the Scuderia’s decision to replace him with Lewis Hamilton, has been closely linked with Audi in recent weeks.

Has Carlos Sainz already spurned Audi?

Sainz, perhaps the hottest property on the driver market thanks to his stellar performances for Ferrari over the past year, is still without a seat for next season and has been linked with the unconfirmed seats at Red Bull and Mercedes, as well as a seat at Audi.

If Sainz does commit to Audi, 2025 would likely be a year of building with the Sauber team ahead of the German manufacturer’s takeover for the 2026 season as the regulations are then upended on both the chassis and power unit front.

With Sainz believed to have received an offer from Red Bull, and return to the company with whom he made his F1 debut at Toro Rosso a decade ago, as well as being a prospect for Mercedes, the Spaniard will likely have to weigh up plenty of scenarios in his mind.

With Audi, there’s no guarantee of any sort of success any time soon, as the team continues to recruit and strengthen itself – a process that is underway but far from complete.

At Mercedes and Red Bull, more immediate success is likely but, from 2026, the same question marks over their ability to nail the new regulations come into play – perhaps more so for Red Bull than Mercedes, given their inexperience as an independent power unit manufacturer.

Added to that is the concern that Mercedes is gearing up to focus on George Russell and perhaps the arrival of highly-rated junior Kimi Antonelli, meaning Sainz might only be offered a short-term deal.

With Sauber/Audi confirming Nico Hulkenberg last week following months of speculation, Spanish media have suggested Audi is now set to announce its second driver but that it will not be Sainz.

According to Antonio Lobato, a respected journalist with close links to the Sainz camp, Sainz has decided not to accept Audi’s offer despite it being a higher monetary bid than others.

Lobato also reported that Sainz has missed the deadline set by Audi to make up his mind whether or not to sign with the company, in order to risk trying to land a seat with current frontrunners Red Bull or Mercedes – neither of which is guaranteed.

“He decided not to accept the offer and miss the deadline he had to respond,” Lobato wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

“Accepting it would have given him peace of mind, in addition to a good financial offer, but he preferred to take the risk to see if he finds a place in a more competitive team.

“Main options: Red Bull if there is movement (it seems there is) and Mercedes. They’re talking, but there’s nothing yet. Mercedes wants Verstappen who is, without a doubt, the key piece of this puzzle.”

However, this doesn’t mean the chances of Audi and Sainz teaming up are completely quashed. understands that no announcement is yet planned by Audi regarding their second driver and that the purported Sainz deadline has been a product of media speculation. This would suggest the door for a Sainz arrival has not yet been shut fully, since Sainz can’t have missed a deadline that doesn’t exist. recommends

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Carlos Sainz: The good options are still open

Sainz and his manager Carlos Onoro Sainz have made it clear that they are open to negotiating with just about anybody at the moment, with Onoro Sainz saying there are a few balls in the air.

“Let’s say, it’s an interesting period of time at the moment,” he told the F1 Nation podcast.

“The driver market has been all over the place lately and I think we will see some movements in the upcoming weeks but for the moment, the juggling continues.”

Asked whether Formula 1 could hear an announcement before the next race in Miami, he replied: “No, no, no! You can sleep well between China and Miami don’t worry!

“There will be no big news at least coming from us, for sure not. We’re still playing the game so we’ll see.”

As for Sainz, the three-time Grand Prix winner wasn’t too fazed about Fernando Alonso taking Aston Martin off the table following his signing as he revealed “All my best options are still open which I think it is a positive thing and is something that obviously requires a bit of time, given the situation of the market.

“I think it’s going to take some time for everything to make their own mind [up] and their own decisions, but the good options are still open.”

He added: “Obviously it gets to a point where the sooner that everything develops the better, because at the same time it’s not like it’s affecting my performances at all this year.

“But the earlier you take this out of your head and of the situation the better. But it requires time and it requires some decision-making, so now is the time to let that happen and see how things progress.”

The driver market is focused on the decisions made by Max Verstappen and his camp, with rumours abounding that he may opt to leave Red Bull in order to join Mercedes.

Should Verstappen opt to make that switch for 2026, Sainz is unlikely to end up with Brackley, given the likelihood of a single-year deal if the team seeks to re-sign George Russell alongside Verstappen.

If Verstappen does choose to leave Red Bull, as well as the uncertainty over Sergio Perez’s future, a seat with Milton Keynes would appear likely for Sainz as both Christian Horner and Helmut Marko have expressed admiration for what he’s managed to achieve over the past 12 months.

However, Sainz’s reported snub of Audi leaves him exposed. If the door to Audi closes, Sainz will find himself running out of options if Verstappen and Red Bull’s relationship stabilises.

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