Development in Carlos Sainz deal with ‘one more obstacle’ removed – report

Michelle Foster
Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz finger raised in celebration.

Carlos Sainz was the only non-Red Bull driver to take a win through the whole of 2023.

Carlos Sainz has “one less obstacle at the negotiating table” after Lando Norris committed his long-term future to McLaren, taking him out of the running for Sainz’s Ferrari seat.

Last week Ferrari confirmed Charles Leclerc as a Scuderia driver for “several” more seasons to come. There, however, was no mention of Sainz although his current deal also expires at the end of this year.

It has been widely speculated that’s because Sainz and Ferrari have yet to agree on the duration of his extension.

‘This turning point comes in favour of Sainz…’

The Italian stable reportedly wants to keep its options open should one of today’s hot prospects become available, while also keeping an eye on the likes of their own Oliver Bearman and Arthur Leclerc.

Sainz, though, wants a long-term deal and has publicly stated “not just two” years.

That is the sticking point in the 29-year-old’s negotiations with new team boss Fred Vasseur.

But there is a glimmer of hope for Sainz after Norris took himself out of the running for the Ferrari seat when he re-signed with McLaren.

The Briton, who was going to be free after the 2025 season, put pen to paper on a deal that will keep him in Woking “until at least the end of 2026”.

It’s one less competitor for Sainz’s Ferrari seat, surmises Gazzetta dello Sport.

“This turning point comes in favour of Sainz, who will have one less obstacle at the negotiating table, so it is to be believed that the Spaniard will eventually be able to snatch the long-awaited two-year contract,” claims the Italian publication.

But, Gazzetta adds, “a question remains” and that’s will Sainz “accept being considered, in fact, Leclerc’s number two?” recommends

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But is Carlos Sainz Charles Leclerc’s number two?

Team boss Fred Vasseur has made it abundantly clear that despite his ties to Leclerc built during the driver’s junior days in racing, he won’t play favourites.

“We have two very good drivers, both of them are able to do the job,” he said last season.

“There will be no number one or number two. But if at one stage, we have to take action, I will take action. It doesn’t matter if it’s for one or the other, but if at one stage of the season I have to do something, I will do it.”

And he did, sacrificing Leclerc at the Singapore Grand Prix to boost Sainz’s bid to win the Grand Prix. The Spaniard pulled off the win, the only time a driver not racing for Red Bull won a race during the 2023 championship.

It’s not the first time Leclerc has found himself second best to his team-mate, Ferrari also giving Sainz the preferred strategy at the 2022 British Grand Prix with Leclerc falling from first to fourth in a late-race restart, while Sainz shot up to win the race.

F1’s rumour mill may claim Leclerc is the favoured driver, but the pit wall says otherwise.

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