It’s hard not to feel bad for Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari career being cut short, but at least he was replaced by one of the best drivers of all time, Lewis Hamilton. In saying that, Sainz is easily within the top ten Formula 1 drivers and would be an asset to any team. There are also a plethora of seats available at eight of the ten teams in 2025 with the only two unavailable to him being Ferrari and McLaren. So where is he likely to drive?
Straight up swapping seats with Hamilton at Mercedes is an option. Having spent what’s to be four years at Ferrari and earning two race wins in the process, Sainz knows what it takes to be up at the front, exactly where Mercedes wants to be. The problem with this situation is that it will likely only be a Band-Aid situation for Mercedes in the short term.
The thing is that there’s an up-and-coming star in the Mercedes stable, Andrea Kimi Antonelli. The 17-year-old prodigy is the potential future for Mercedes so he may cut the 29-year-old Sainz’s tenure at the team short should he want a more permanent position at the team.
Sainz has been part of the Red Bull family before, being a Red Bull junior driver in 2010 and starting his F1 career at Toro Rosso. We’re all well aware that Sergio Perez has been struggling recently and his contract does expire at the end of 2024, but it is reported that despite this, Sainz and Max Verstappen do not get along personally. Or at least that was the case when they were teammates in 2015, as confirmed by Helmut Marko.
Perhaps enough time has passed for this not to be an issue, but it doesn’t seem likely Red Bull would like someone on their team that aggravates their star driver. Not to mention that Sainz would have to admit to the role of second driver, which given his time at Ferrari would suggest, he isn’t keen on.
If Fernando Alonso retires after 2024, Sainz might be in a good position to take his seat. If Lance Stroll decides he’s had enough of F1, Sainz could take the seat. The problem isn’t so much that Sainz wouldn’t make a good fit for Aston Martin (he’s consistent, fast, and experienced), it’s that there are too many unknowns in the Aston Martin camp. Will they continue to be competitive? Will their drivers continue with the team? It’s hard to say, but how cool would it be to see Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso on a team together?
Audi looks to be one of Sainz’s best options, however, they aren’t joining the grid until 2026. That either means that Sainz has to take a year off in 2025, which is unlikely, or join a team in the meantime. He could feasibly join the Stake F1 team and replace either Zhou Guanyu or Valtteri Bottas before the team is transferred to Audi, but we don’t know how much control Audi have over driver decisions before 2026. Either that or he goes to any team other than Ferrari or McLaren for 2025 and then moves to Audi. Though will any team be happy with investing in a driver that they know will leave them after such a short time? It’s difficult to say.
At Audi, Sainz can get exactly what he wants. He can be the star driver, no longer considered second best, a brand that is tied to his name, and hopefully further race wins. He just has to be patient.