Jacques Villeneuve, the 1997 F1 World Champion, has described Carlos Sainz as the “big loser” in Lewis Hamilton’s landmark move to Ferrari for 2025.
Hamilton announced on Thursday that he will leave Mercedes to join Ferrari at the end of 2024, replacing Sainz as Charles Leclerc’s team-mate after 12 years with the Silver Arrows.
The move comes despite Sainz being the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race last season, converting pole position to victory at the Singapore Grand Prix.
Carlos Sainz ‘the big loser’ in Lewis Hamilton Ferrari switch
Sainz, who arrived at the Scuderia as four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel’s replacement in 2021, had been hopeful of securing a contract extension with Ferrari but is now searching for a new seat on the 2025 grid.
The 29-year-old has been frequently linked with a lucrative switch to Audi, poised to take over the existing Sauber team in 2026, over the last 12 months.
Villeneuve believes Sainz’s bargaining position will be much reduced in light of Ferrari’s move for Hamilton – and he reckons the Spaniard could prove tricky to manage for team boss Fred Vasseur in 2024.
He told Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport: “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.
Villeneuve has hailed Hamilton’s switch to Ferrari as a major boost for F1, claiming the partnership between the most successful team and driver in the sport’s history will generate huge interest.
He said: “It is good news for all of us.
“It is unexpected, indeed, and exciting. It gets people talking. You can’t imagine anything more: the greatest team of all time with the most successful driver.
“For Ferrari it is an incredible image operation, in a positive sense. And on Hamilton’s part, it’s a great move.”