Guenther Steiner questions Williams ‘wishful thinking’ amid Adrian Newey, Carlos Sainz rumours

Oliver Harden
A close-up shot of Guenther Steiner looking to his right where a prominent Williams logo sits alongside him

Guenther Steiner isn't predicting title glory for Williams in 2025

Former Haas team principal Guenther Steiner has dismissed Williams’ interest in Red Bull design F1 guru Adrian Newey and outgoing Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz as “wishful thinking.”

And he fears the team could end up looking “pretty stupid” if neither deal comes off.

Guenther Steiner questions Williams pursuit of Adrian Newey, Carlos Sainz

With Newey and Sainz announcing their departures from their respective teams in F1 2024, Williams team principal James Vowles has made no secret of his desire to make a splash in the market and attract a big name to Grove.

Just days after it was confirmed last month that Newey will leave Red Bull in early F1 2025, Vowles revealed at the Miami Grand Prix that he had held “very light discussions” with the 65-year-old over a potential return to Williams.

At the recent Monaco Grand Prix, meanwhile, it emerged that Williams have held talks with Sainz, who will be replaced by seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton at Ferrari in F1 2025.

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Williams’ interest in the pair comes despite the team finishing bottom of the Constructors’ Championship in five of the last six seasons, with the team winless since 2012.

Asked about Williams’ talks with Newey and Sainz, Steiner admitted to being surprised that Vowles has been so open about his negotiations with high-profile paddock figures.

And he claimed the likes of Toto Wolff and Fred Vasseur, the team bosses of Mercedes and Ferrari respectively, would be more guarded when facing the media.

He told the Red Flags podcast: “A few weeks ago, Adrian Newey was going there. I don’t hear anything about that one anymore.

“I don’t think they’re rumours. James said them openly. It’s not a rumour.

“If the team principal says that he is speaking with Adrian, obviously the press picks it up. That is what the press are there for. If somebody says [something], you need to [report it].

“Obviously not knowing if it is serious or not, I would say it’s a little bit of wishful thinking.

“Obviously he’s going to speak to people – that is what you [should] be doing, you should be speaking – but before you say [it] you need to be a little more certain that they will happen.

“If Toto or Fred said who they speak to all day long, we would be like: ‘Wow, next year Ferrari will need a new building to fit in all the people they spoke with.’

“It’s a little bit of namedropping as well: ‘We are getting Adrian Newey here.’

“Does Adrian really want to go to Williams? I don’t know. Maybe he wants to, but Adrian has got a lot of opportunities out there. He can pick where he can go.

“I don’t know why he would pick Williams, but maybe he knows. Maybe they offer him something somebody else cannot offer him, maybe he gets half of the team [to own].”

Reports in Italy on Friday indicated that Sainz could sign a one-year deal with Williams for F1 2025 with an option on his side for a further season, allowing him the flexibility to pursue his “great objective” of a Red Bull seat for F1 2026.

However, Steiner is not willing to bet that Williams will be crowned World Champions next year with Newey and Sainz both involved.

He said: “If you just catch up after a while when you’ve had no success, [what is there to gain when you say] this is what you wanted to do and you didn’t achieve it?

“The results are the only thing that counts. But it’s not only in Formula 1, it’s in general, it’s in life. You can talk a lot of stuff and never do something.

“Maybe James will get it all and he’s World Champion next year, which I’m fine with. It’d make an interesting Formula 1.

“It’s difficult to predict that one and if I were a betting man, I wouldn’t be putting my money on that.

“You always speak with people. As a team principal, you speak with a lot of people but with some it’s just an exchange like: ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?’

“It doesn’t mean that Carlos Sainz went to them begging for a cockpit. It’s right for James to ask Carlos: ‘Are you interested in coming to Williams? Let’s have a talk about it.’

“Fred and Toto speak with everybody. They talk with sponsors, they talk with these great companies – but you don’t want to make that public because, if it doesn’t happen, you look pretty stupid.

“Maybe we will be surprised and Carlos and Adrian sign in the next few weeks. I’d be fine with that.”

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