Helmut Marko reveals further detail on Carlos Sainz’s Audi offer as deadline looms

Thomas Maher
Carlos Sainz and Helmut Marko.

Helmut Marko has revealed more details of the contract offer Carlos Sainz has allegedly received from Audi.

Helmut Marko has shed more light on the Audi offer to Carlos Sainz that has reportedly been extended to the Spaniard.

Ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend, the Red Bull advisor revealed he has knowledge of an offer that has allegedly been made to Carlos Sainz as the Ferrari driver tries to find alternative employment for 2025.

Helmut Marko: Carlos Sainz has to make a decision relatively soon

Sainz is currently on the driver market trying to find a new team to race with, following Ferrari’s decision to part ways with him at the conclusion of 2024 in order to sign Lewis Hamilton.

One of the teams he’s heavily linked with is Audi, with the German manufacturer arriving in F1 in 2026 after a takeover of the Sauber team.

Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas currently race for the Swiss squad, but neither are confirmed beyond the end of this season. On Friday, Sauber and Audi confirmed the arrival of Nico Hulkenberg in 2025, meaning at least one of the incumbent drivers will be departing.

With Sainz eyeing up the seat alongside Hulkenberg, details of the contract offer have been revealed by Red Bull’s Helmut Marko – the Austrian has made it obvious that Sainz is a driver of interest for Red Bull as they cast around the available drivers for a potential replacement of Sergio Perez, should the team opt to part ways with the Mexican.

Marko revealed that Audi has made an offer to Sainz that Red Bull “cannot match or beat”, although Red Bull team boss Christian Horner later asserted that his outfit have no knowledge of what has or hasn’t been offered to Sainz and, even if they did, wouldn’t want to share details of their negotiations.

Speaking in the context of the unconfirmed Red Bull seat, for which Sainz is a contender, Marko said Red Bull won’t be put under pressure by what other organisations are doing on the driver market.

“Sainz is in great form at the moment,” Marko told Austrian publication OE24.

“I think he has a very good offer from Audi for three years, but he has to make a decision relatively soon. We, on the other hand, won’t be making a decision soon, we don’t let such things put us under pressure. But of course, we are sorting.”

One big factor for Red Bull in their negotiations is they have prior knowledge of Sainz, having backed him through his junior career and in his early F1 years as he raced with Toro Rosso (now RB).

Marko said that it’s evident Sainz is a different driver compared to what they had almost 10 years ago: “Well, he was still very young back then. But in the meantime, he has developed really well and is showing incredible form.”

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With Horner having refuted Marko’s reveal of an offer from Audi to Sainz, the team boss reiterated this position when he spoke to the media following the Chinese Grand Prix.

“We’re not aware of any offer,” he said.

“It’s not been disclosed to us what Audi may or may not have offered to Carlos and it would be inappropriate to comment on that.

“As I’m sure if we made an offer, it wouldn’t be disclosed to another team. So Carlos is on the open market for next year. He’s a hot prospect and no doubt many teams will be showing great interest. I think there are several that probably are.

“Honestly, no numbers have been disclosed.

“One would assume that they’re going to be quite aggressive in the driver market.

“But, as you can tell with the level of interest that we have had from other drivers in our seats, for a driver of Carlos’ calibre, he wants to be in a winning car. And whilst we have one seat available for next year, his target, inevitably, is that seat.”

Amusingly, 2016 F1 World Champion Nico Rosberg told Sky F1 during their Chinese GP coverage that he believes Sainz has been made an offer by Red Bull but that it doesn’t quite come up to scratch.

“You know that they have an offer out to Carlos Sainz and I saw daddy Sainz speaking to Christian Horner yesterday,” Rosberg said.

“Because Christian Horner has apparently been a bit stingy on the offer. So, they’re trying to get a couple more million out of him!”

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