‘Red Bull run by the Verstappen family’ – Fears rise over ‘travesty’ scenario for Carlos Sainz

Michelle Foster
Carlos Sainz and Helmut Marko handshake ahead of the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix

Carlos Sainz and Helmut Marko handshake.

Declaring Red Bull is “run by the Verstappen family”, Damon Hill is worried Carlos Sainz won’t get a top drive next season and he reckons that’s a “travesty”.

Dropped by Ferrari even before the first race of this season in favour of signing Lewis Hamilton, Sainz has been the star of the F1 2024 championship.

‘The team is run by the Verstappen family, it is basically their team’

With three podiums in three race starts, he’s the only driver with a 100 per cent podium record, one of those coming courtesy of his Australian Grand Prix victory with the Spaniard on the top step of the podium 16 days after an appendectomy.

His P1 that Sunday meant he remains the only non-Red Bull driver to win a Grand Prix since George Russell at the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix.

And despite sitting out a race weekend, he’s only four points behind Charles Leclerc in the Drivers’ standings.

It has pundits and fans bewildered by the position in which Sainz finds himself in – eight months away from a new year and still without a 2025 race seat.

The Spaniard, though, is, at least according to F1’s rumour mill, not short of options with Red Bull and Mercedes in the running along with Audi, the latter being today’s Sauber team.

But while Karun Chandhok says it would be a “shame” if the 29-year-old ended up in the bottom half of the grid, Hill has called it a “travesty”.

The 1996 World Champion told Sky Sports: “I think it’d be an absolute travesty if Carlos Sainz did not find himself in front-running team next year. He deserves to be in a top team.”

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But questioned on which top team would sign Sainz, Hill admitted the driver’s options are limited as the Verstappen family “runs” Red Bull so unless Sainz is open to being a wingman, that’s not an option.

“What’s available? Mercedes is the obvious one,” Hill said. “With Red Bull, I can’t see how that’s gonna work with Max there.

“The team is run by the Verstappen family, it is basically their team.

“I can’t see that they’re gonna allow anyone… unless he’s prepared to be a good number two but then Checo is doing a very good job there doing that role as well.”

Although Verstappen has been widely linked to a move to Mercedes, rumoured in some quarters to be unhappy with Red Bull’s internal politics amidst the Christian Horner investigation, the Dutchman himself has said he’s “happy” at his current team.

After all, Red Bull do have the fastest car on the grid.

That’s had Toto Wolff conceding that will most likely be Verstappen’s only criteria, a fast car, as he decides his future and right now Mercedes cannot deliver that.

But according to Giedo van der Garde, unless Verstappen joins Mercedes, Sainz will not be given a look-in at Red Bull as that would be too much “fuss” for the team to deal with.

As such, today it does look as if Stake/Sauber/Audi is Sainz’s most likely destination.

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