‘Brilliant’ next move for Carlos Sainz identified after surprise Ferrari exit

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.

Former F1 driver Anthony Davidson is convinced that Carlos Sainz will lead Audi’s F1 project in 2026 after losing his Ferrari seat to Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton announced earlier this month that he will leave Mercedes for Ferrari at the end of 2024 to partner Charles Leclerc, leaving Sainz without a seat.

Sainz’s reputation has grown immeasurably since he was signed as four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel’s replacement in 2021, claiming his maiden F1 victory at the 2022 British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Carlos Sainz a ‘brilliant’ option for Audi F1

The Spaniard followed that up by becoming the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race in 2023, triumphing from pole position in Singapore.

Sainz has been heavily linked with Audi – poised to take over the existing Sauber team when F1’s new regulations come into effect in 2026 – over the last 12 months.

And after winning the legendary Dakar Rally in Audi colours last month – before his Ferrari exit became public knowledge – Sainz’s father Carlos Sr confirmed he had “exchanged views” with his son over a move to the Swiss-based team.

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Speaking during F1’s coverage of pre-season testing in Bahrain, former BAR-Honda and Super Aguri star Davidson claimed Audi is the perfect destination for Sainz.

He said: “Ferrari were the [only] other team than Red Bull to win a race last year and Carlos was that driver to make it happen.

“Carlos is such a professional. That’s how I see him. He’s always there, a solid driver. I think, in mixed conditions, he’s very, very good.

“Such a wise head that he has and he showcased that brilliantly in Singapore last year, playing the old DRS game with his good old buddy Lando Norris behind them, using him basically to protect himself with the DRS.

“How clever is that? So he’s a very wise driver.

“I’m sure he’s got a lot of fans out there that are gutted to see him going, but when Lewis Hamilton comes knocking at the door it’s hard not to open it.”

On the rumours linking Sainz with Audi, he commented: “I assume that’s going to happen.

“I just think that’s a very good place for an experienced, professional racer like he is to end up, to help nurture a new team.

“It’s still Sauber, of course, but there’ll be new people within that team that want to make their own mark and moment in time in Formula 1 and I think he will be a brilliant driver to help guide and measure the aspirations – perhaps slight overoptimism as well – in some moments.

“I think he’s an excellent driver. And we see it at Ferrari as well, when sometimes the strategy is wavering a little bit, going off-piste slightly, he’s always there to rein it back in and keep people’s feet on the ground.

“I see him as that kind of stalwart, a driver that speaks with authority. I think that will go a long way if he turns up at Audi and I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest.”

Put to him that a switch to Sauber would see him reunited with former McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl, whom Sainz worked under for two seasons in 2019/20 before joining Ferrari, Davidson added: “Exactly that. There’s that working relationship right there.”

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