Helmut Marko delivers huge Carlos Sainz update as ‘lucrative’ Audi offer revealed

Oliver Harden
Carlos Sainz and the logos of Audi, Red Bull and Mercedes alongside him

Could Carlos Sainz reject an offer from Audi to pursue opportunities at Red Bull and Mercedes?

Helmut Marko has confirmed that Red Bull are in negotiations with Carlos Sainz over an F1 2025 seat – but conceded the team cannot match a “very lucrative offer” from 2026 newcomers Audi.

Despite learning over the winter that he will lose his Ferrari seat to Lewis Hamilton next year, Sainz has enjoyed his best-ever start to a season in 2024, collecting his third career victory at last month’s Australian Grand Prix.

Helmut Marko confirms Red Bull F1 2025 talks with Carlos Sainz

Having stood on the podium at each of the three races he has contested so far, the 29-year-old has emerged as the hottest property on the grid with Sainz heavily linked to potential vacancies at Red Bull, Mercedes and Sauber, which will become Audi in 2026.

Multiple reports from Italy last week claimed Sainz is on the verge of agreeing a deal to join Mercedes for 2025 in what would be a direct seat swap with seven-time World Champion Hamilton.

Meanwhile, Sainz is said to be facing an upcoming deadline to make a decision on whether to accept an offer from Audi to lead the German manufacturer’s F1 entry in 2026.

PlanetF1.com recommends

Follow PlanetF1.com’s WhatsApp channel for all the F1 breaking news!

Midfield team that ‘solved the problem’ tipped to excel as F1 returns to China

Sainz emerged from Red Bull’s famed youth system to make his F1 debut with junior team Toro Rosso, where he partnered Verstappen in 2015/16 before the Dutchman was promoted to the senior team.

The Spaniard has been linked with a return to Red Bull as a replacement for either Verstappen, who has been heavily linked with Mercedes over recent weeks, or Sergio Perez, whose contract is due to expire at the end of this season.

Speaking to Austrian publication Kleine Zeitung, long-serving Red Bull adviser Marko has revealed the team are engaged in discussions with Sainz, but are unable to match the offer from Audi.

He said: “We are talking to him.

“He is having his strongest season in Formula 1, but he has a very lucrative offer from Audi that we can’t match or beat.”

Marko recalled that being overlooked for a promotion to Red Bull back in 2016 stung Sainz, who was eventually chosen as Sebastian Vettel’s replacement at Ferrari in 2021 after spells with Renault and McLaren.

He added: “We know him from the Toro Rosso days, even back then he raced with Max.

“But it really hurt him back then when we backed Verstappen at Red Bull and not him.”

Read next: F1 rumours: Max Verstappen ‘in a corner’ as Christian Horner plots cunning Red Bull power grab