May 23 - Audi-owned Sauber appears to be the best remaining option for departing Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz for 2025 and beyond.

He has reportedly had a lucrative offer on the table for several weeks now, but has been holding out for even one-year deals at Mercedes or Red Bull.

It is also believed that at Imola, via his father and namesake Carlos Sainz, that the 29-year-old appreciated offers from Williams and Alpine but turned them down.

An F1 photographer then spotted Sainz, 29, meeting with Red Bull team boss Christian Horner at Imola last weekend. Sergio Perez is yet to be signed for 2025, and Mercedes' Toto Wolff is openly waiting to see if even Max Verstappen might leave the energy drink-owned camp amid internal strife.

But Erik van Haren, regarded as perhaps the best-connected of F1's Dutch media contingent, thinks there is "no reason" for Verstappen, 26, to quit Red Bull at least before 2026.

"Wolff knows that too," he told De Telegraaf, "but he will kick himself if Verstappen turns out to be available in a few months."

However, it is believed Wolff has already closed Mercedes' door to Sainz - deciding that George Russell's next teammate will either be his own rookie protege Kimi Antonelli or Verstappen.

When asked about Verstappen, former F1 driver Christijan Albers thinks the triple world champion will definitely not make the jump to Mercedes for 2025.

"Verstappen thinks very simply," he said. "He just wants the best car.

"Next year will just be upgrades and updates to the current car. Then in 2026 we move on to a completely new concept."

As for the seat alongside Verstappen at Red Bull, however, there could be a vacancy - especially given that Perez performed so poorly at Imola a week ago.

"When the car behaves unpredictably," van Haren said, "the difference between Verstappen and Perez becomes painfully clear."

Albers agrees that as Ferrari and McLaren close in on Red Bull, Perez's place on the team becomes more and more untenable.

"When you're no longer in such a luxurious position, that's when you have a real problem," he said.

"He (Perez) just lacks the speed and then you suddenly see that he is no longer even near the front - one car is P1 and the other is P11. That's just not good enough."

Dutch F1 GP boss Jan Lammers agrees, telling NOS: "Perez really needs to step up, otherwise Red Bull will have to work hard to win the constructors' championship."

However, writing for Corriere dello Sport, journalist Fulvio Solms said the chance that Perez will ultimately be re-signed for 2025 is "80 percent".

"And the remaining 20 percent is no longer of interest to Carlos, annoyed by this 'on-call' role," he said. "So he has just made the decision - he has chosen Audi.

"Meetings are already underway to plan a promotional campaign involving Sainz," Solms claims.

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2 F1 Fan comments on “Sainz Drives into the Future: Audi Deal Sealed for 2025

  1. Jere Jyrälä

    Let's wait & see before making definitive conclusions.
    I still don't rule out Mercedes as his ultimate 2025 resort, & Red Bull Racing in the big-IF scenario of Max leaving.


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