‘No way’ Red Bull would sign Carlos Sainz as Villeneuve questions transfer strategy

Michelle Foster
Carlos Sainz with a Red Bull logo alongside him

The Red Bull door has been shut to Carlos Sainz

Amidst reports, although denied by Carlos Sainz, that he turned down Audi to wait on Red Bull or Mercedes, Jacques Villeneuve says there was “no way” the Spaniard was ever in contention for Red Bull.

Dropped by Ferrari even before the first race of this season, Sainz was widely linked to Audi but as no announcement came, rumours began to suggest he was holding out for Red Bull or Mercedes.

‘Carlos Sainz waited too long on something that he knew was not going to happen’

Both are now said to be off the list, although Red Bull is the only one of the two to give official confirmation as the team announced Sergio Perez will remain Max Verstappen’s team-mate for a further two seasons.

That put an end to speculation Sainz could yet take on Verstappen at Red Bull, the two having made their debuts together at Red Bull’s junior team in 2015.

Villeneuve reckons that’s because Red Bull don’t want a team-mate to challenge Verstappen, especially not when they’ve just found harmony after their early-year off-track disruption involving team boss Christian Horner.

“Sainz, the impression is he’s just waited too long on something that he knew was not going to happen,” he told Sky Sports. “There was no way the Red Bull seat would open.

“There’s been too much chaos over the winter. They need stability.

“Christian Horner has done a good job of resettling the team now, keeping Max happy because they’re not winning anymore so they really need to get the ball rolling.

“You don’t come and change in a driver that would come into team saying ‘I’m here to beat Max’, that just wouldn’t work. Perez knows his place.

“He knows he’s lucky to still be there. He knows that he’s in the shadow of Max and he will remain there. He’s like a Barrichello or an Irvine at Ferrari at the time, but he knows his position. That’s good. The team needs that. So why not?”

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Jacques Villeneuve evaluates Carlos Sainz’s options

But while Red Bull is a definite no for Sainz, Mercedes still has an open seat although team boss Toto Wolff has made it clear Mercedes junior driver Kimi Antonelli is the team’s “future”.

As such Villeneuve reckons Sainz could take a year with Mercedes, or he could still jump at Audi’s long-term offer.

If not, Williams have made it known they are interested.

“Then you get Mercedes,” he continued. “Sainz won’t do a one-year deal. Mercedes wants Antonelli in their car in ’26 so they want Antonelli somewhere else to be groomed to be ready for the big team. And so that’s an awkward situation for a driver like Sainz.

“Now Audi, if you get a five-year contract with Audi why not? It gives you time to build the team, the wind tunnel is amazing [but] the factory still needs to be worked on but that could be a prospect.

“If not Williams is on the way up. So that’s not a bad place.”

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