Audi given worrying Carlos Sainz verdict as Guenther Steiner assesses F1 2025 market

Jamie Woodhouse
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, 2024 Chinese Grand Prix, with Audi logo.

Carlos Sainz has been heavily linked with the arrival of Audi in F1.

Audi want to bring in Carlos Sainz to complete their first Formula 1 driver line-up, but former Haas team boss Guenther Steiner feels they will be left waiting until Red Bull and Mercedes act.

Sainz went into the F1 2024 campaign knowing that he needed to find a new home on the grid for next year, after Ferrari opted to sign seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to partner Charles Leclerc from 2025.

Guenther Steiner assesses Carlos Sainz Audi option

Sainz though has enjoyed a solid start to the season, which has included a sensational victory at the Australian Grand Prix upon his return after appendix surgery, leading to Red Bull and Mercedes acknowledging him as an F1 2025 option.

But, Audi very much want Sainz as well, the Spaniard a driver capable of spearheading their team as the German brand prepares to join the grid in 2026.

One half of their line-up is already complete with Nico Hulkenberg on his way over from Haas, but if Sainz is to complete it, then Steiner does not think such a decision will be made before Red Bull and Mercedes have decided their 2025 line-ups.

Hamilton’s exit means there is a guaranteed vacancy at Mercedes, while Red Bull are mulling over whether or not to extend Sergio Perez’s stay.

As part of his column for the Formula 1 website, Steiner wrote: “One of the big players in the driver market right now is Carlos Sainz, who doesn’t have a seat for next year after losing out to Lewis.

“Once Red Bull and Mercedes decide what they want to do with their open seats, Carlos could be in the frame.

“Carlos will know he has an option at Sauber, which will become Audi in 2026. I think they are keen to have him onboard. But I don’t think Carlos is in a hurry to sign anything until he knows the doors to the big teams are closed.

“He’s won a race this year and is in great form, so you can understand why he ideally wants his next project to give him the chance to keep doing that.

“The seat everyone will really want is Red Bull – but the team are in no rush to make a decision as Checo is doing a great job. Mercedes aren’t in a hurry either.

“So, Carlos can wait. He will not be without a good seat in the end. It’s just a question of how good that seat is.”

More on where Carlos Sainz could go for F1 2025

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👉 Carlos Sainz playing ‘dangerous game of poker’ with ‘one-year’ Mercedes option on the table

And Steiner believes that Sainz has a major weapon in his arsenal in the form of his father, two-time World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz Sr.

Steiner regards him as “one of the smartest negotiators” he knows and tips him to play a “big role” in where his son ultimately ends up on the F1 grid beyond this season.

“His father Carlos Sainz Senior, who I know very well, will play a big role in determining his son’s future,” Steiner predicts. “He’s one of the smartest negotiators I know. The guy is just so good. Look at how he helped Carlos get into Formula 1.

“He’s won two world championships himself in rally and he won the famous Dakar Rally at over 60 years old – he’s always in the right car at the right time.

“He will help make the best move available at that moment in time. I have no doubt about that – which is why we don’t have to worry about Carlos!”

Interestingly, Sainz Senior recently signed with Ford to return to the Dakar Rally in 2025, as he chases a fifth win with as many manufacturers at the event.

With Ford set to partner Red Bull from 2026 on the newly-formed Red Bull Powertrains project, could this be a sign of where Sainz Jr’s future lies?

Read next: Ford announcement sends fan speculation wild over Carlos Sainz’s next move