Carlos Sainz hits back at F1 ‘shop window’ claim with early Ferrari exit confirmed

Oliver Harden
A profile shot of Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz with prominent badges of Mercedes, Red Bull and Audi alongside him.

Carlos Sainz will not be short of options for 2025 after his Ferrari exit was confirmed.

Carlos Sainz has insisted he does not need to treat the F1 2024 season as an opportunity to put himself in the “shop window” as he prepares to leave Ferrari.

Sainz announced earlier this month that he will leave Ferrari at the end of this season after the Scuderia confirmed Lewis Hamilton as Charles Leclerc’s new team-mate for 2025.

The future of Sainz, who arrived at Maranello as four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel’s replacement at the beginning of 2021, remains unclear.

Carlos Sainz rejects ‘shop window’ situation at Ferrari

Additional reporting by Sam Cooper

Sainz has seen his reputation grow over the course of his three seasons with Ferrari to date, claiming his first F1 victory at Silverstone in 2022 before becoming the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race last season by triumphing from pole position in Singapore.

The 29-year-old has been heavily linked with Audi – set to take over the existing Sauber team in 2026 – over the last 12 months and could even emerge as an option to replace Hamilton at Mercedes or succeed Sergio Perez as Max Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate.

Speaking to media including’s Sam Cooper at the launch of Ferrari’s 2024 car, Sainz dismissed the suggestion that he can use the new season to impress potential suitors – insisting he has already shown what he is capable of since arriving on the grid in 2015. recommends

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He said: “Honestly speaking, I don’t think I need a new season to prove that or to show to anyone what I’m capable of.

“I think I’ve been in F1 for nine years and over the last nine years – and especially the last three being with a team like Ferrari – everyone has seen more or less what I’m capable of.

“Obviously [it’s] a new year, new opportunity, hopefully a better car that allows us to – especially in the races – shine a bit more than what we did last year, because definitely last year in the races we were struggling a bit more than in qualifying.

“And with a better race car, we can do some better races, some better strategies, some better tyre management, some better overtakes – because last year I was having to defend my position a lot and I did a lot of good defending but not enough good overtaking.

“Obviously looking forward to that and to see what we can extract from the car this year.”

Sainz’s comments come after Jacques Villeneuve, the 1997 World Champion, described him as “the big loser” of Hamilton’s Ferrari move, suggesting his negotiating position with other teams will be heavily compromised.

And he suggested Sainz could prove tricky to handle for Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur, claiming the former Toro Rosso, Renault and McLaren man will be out for himself in 2024.

He explained: “He is the big loser in this situation because his bargaining power, with Audi or anyone else, is obviously much less.

“Sainz will have no interest in playing the team’s games. Ferrari’s results for him now count for zero, the only thing that will count will be his results.

“He has to [produce] them for his 2025 contract. Possibly trying to beat Leclerc.

“See how Mercedes will handle the confrontation between [George] Russell and Hamilton. And how it will work between Leclerc and Sainz, who now has nothing left to lose.”

Following his victory with Audi at last month’s Dakar Rally, which came in advance of Hamilton’s move to Ferrari, Sainz’s father – the two-time World Rally Champion Carlos Sr – revealed he had “exchanged views” with his son over becoming part of the German manufacturer’s plans for 2026.

He said: “Audi, I think, is a guarantee.

“I know very well how seriously they take every project and I know very well what the German mentality in the world of motoring entails, with its advantages and certain disadvantages.

“For [a] Volkswagen Group [brand] like Audi, you have to respect them. We all know that F1 is a bit of a special world, but I have a lot of respect for Audi.

“I think it will only be a matter of time [before they succeed in F1]. I don’t have a crystal ball, but if Audi has all my respect and I think they are also putting all the ingredients in place for it to be a good project.

“As you would expect at Carlos’ place, with me being part of the Audi family, it’s logical that we talk and exchange views on what the Audi team can be in the future.”

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