Mercedes urged to immediately snap up ‘liberated’ driver or risk Red Bull intervention

Michelle Foster
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, 2024 Australian Grand Prix.

Carlos Sainz is reportedly on the Red Bull and Mercedes shortlist

Mercedes have been urged to “snap up” Carlos Sainz immediately with Red Bull also said to be interested in the Australian Grand Prix winner.

Dropped by Ferrari even before the first race of this season, it was suggested that Sainz may take a backseat to Charles Leclerc in their last year as team-mates.

‘A straight swap has got to be the obvious option for Mercedes’

He’s done anything but.

On the podium in Bahrain, the closest challenger to Red Bull, his season hit a low point when he was forced to sit out at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as he underwent surgery for appendicitis.

Two weeks later he was back in his Ferrari, qualifying on the front row of the grid before going on to win the Australian Grand Prix ahead of Leclerc.

Sainz couldn’t have asked for a better audition with the “jobless” driver reportedly on the shortlist for several teams, including Mercedes.

The Brackley squad, needing a replacement for the Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton, have been urged not to wait and snap up Sainz “now”.

“He’s done a phenomenal job,” Channel 10’s Sam Power told the F1 Nation podcast. “And I think the next question is, we thought that Mercedes would be in the pound seats with this driver market, taking their time, can have the pick of the crop, etc.

“But given his performance, do you just go ‘Well, let’s snap him up now.’ Because I mean, a straight swap has got to be the obvious option for Mercedes.

“This guy is going to be hot property for sure.”

Red Bull, though, has also emerged as an option for Sainz with Christian Horner confirming the Spanish driver is an option should they opt to replace Sergio Perez.

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Carlos Sainz pushing Ferrari towards buyer’s remorse after Lewis Hamilton swap

Sainz is already familiar with the Red Bull organisation having made his Formula 1 debut alongside Max Verstappen in 2015 at Red Bull’s junior team.

But while Verstappen was quickly promoted to the senior squad, Sainz stayed at Toro Rosso before swapping to Renault.

“This is a really interesting one,” Richard Craill added, “because he obviously went up against Max in the very, very first period when Max came into Formula One.

“And I think because everyone didn’t realise how special Max was, we sort of wrote Carlos off so quickly.

“And then he sort of had sort of ethos around him, an aura rather that it wasn’t quite on the same level as someone like Max, but he’s just chipped away and proved himself time and time again. I mean, look at how he goes up against Charles Leclerc. Phenomenon.”

1996 World Champion Damon Hill says he has been very impressed with how Sainz has risen to the challenge this season rather than let his axing demotivate him.

“I think given everything that you put into the pot, the fact that he’s been told he’s surplus to requirements after the end of this year, I think somebody could be demotivated by that. But he’s not that kind of personality,” said the former F1 driver.

“And he’s basically, it’s a liberated him perhaps to go ‘Well, I’m here for me, and I’m going to use this Ferrari and I’m going to do what I do. And you can tell me to stop or whatever, but doesn’t matter because I’m fighting for my survival’.

“And when people are down, they either get back up again, or they stay down and crawl away, and he’s not doing that. He’s not that kind of person.

“He’s showing he’s got fight. And that fight is really powerful. And I think he expressed himself fantastically well this weekend.”

Read next: Charles Leclerc drops major reveal on departing Carlos Sainz’s F1 future