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Helmut Marko reveals Carlos Sainz Red Bull talks: But here’s why he might reject them

Carlos Sainz is currently nine points behind Sergio Perez in the 2024 Driver Standings despite missing a race due to illness


With Fernando Alonso off the driver market, Carlos Sainz is the biggest name to watch in the run-up to 2025 as he shops for his next Formula 1 seat after being replaced at Ferrari and Helmut Marko has revealed Red Bull are talking with the Spaniard, but he will be a tough catch.

Sainz was dropped by the Italian team he joined in 2021 when they swapped him for Lewis Hamilton and he has began the current season in sensational form, finishing on the podium in all of the races he’s entered and winning the 2024 Australian Grand Prix.

That’s making him a highly attractive prospect for both Mercedes and Red Bull, and Marko confirmed that the defending world champions are looking at him but they face a stern test in the bidding war thanks to an offer from Audi.

“We are in talks with him [Sainz],” Marko said to Kleine Zeitung. “He is having his strongest season in F1, but he has a very lucrative contract from Audi that we cannot match.

“We know him from the Toro Rosso era when he drove with Max [Verstappen], but it really hurt him at the time when we supported Verstappen at Red Bull and not him.”

Audi or Red Bull?

Audi are set to join the sport in 2026 when they take over the Sauber team and identity, two seasons after Alfa Romeo stepped away, and the German car supplier wants to use F1 to help compete with Mercedes in the road cars market.

So, Sainz could become their marquee man to lead their race to the top of the sport and he has been linked with the team since 2023 after his father confirmed they were in discussions but with him currently without a seat, he might move a year early to replace one of Valtteri Bottas or Zhou Guanyu.

Meanwhile, Red Bull offers him a chance he’s never had before, to fight for an F1 world title against Verstappen. The team knows him very well as he raced for them in 2015 when he and Verstappen made their debuts as rookies, although the Dutchman delivered a sound beating as he outscored Sainz 49-18.

It’s likely that Red Bull are convinced he will be quicker than Sergio Perez, but not on the same level as Verstappen, if they are entertaining him, considering they previously turned away Hamilton and Alonso in order to preserve the delicate team balance whilst they’re at the top of the sport.

Mercedes are probably his last resort, and the team appears to view him as a last resort too as they wait on Verstappen’s decision regarding his own future whilst they also seem to favour Kimi Antonelli, their Formula 2 hotshot, ahead of him too.

Furthermore, in terms of what Audi and Red Bull are offering, Toto Wolff’s team are neither here nor there. They appear to be in a backwards slide during the ground effect era as they slip further behind Red Bull with each passing season, but they also seem as though they cannot offer him the long-term security that Audi can.

Wolff already admitted that part of why they didn’t offer Hamilton a deal beyond 2025 is because they’re interested in Antonelli’s progression and they want flexibility to decide the seat in the future to avoid wasting the youngster’s talent, meaning can Sainz guarantee his seat would be safe beyond 2026?

Brandon Sutton
Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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