Is Williams’s bold Sainz 2025 claim right?

Williams Formula 1 team boss James Vowles' assertion that it was an “easy decision to come here” is a bold claim when the Audi works team competed for the services of Carlos Sainz.

Sainz's choice is understood to have come down to between Williams or Audi (currently Sauber) for the 2025 season and beyond, although he has yet to make a decision.

The Sauber/Audi team has long been the favourite, and on paper, Williams pales in comparison as the leader of a brand-new works team from one of the world's biggest manufacturers, a team with a rich history in motorsport.

But Formula 1 teams don't perform on paper, and at the moment, Audi has more work to do than Williams to ensure its team can compete by the time the new regulations come into effect in 2026. After all, Sauber is the team that didn't get No points this season. , in a downward spiral in this era of rules, looks to loss to address its problems.

Williams, on the other hand, has been on a generally good trajectory since Dorilton took over the company in 2020. Vowles, who took over last year, has appointed the respected Pat Fry as technical chief, and has persuaded Alex Albon to commit to a long-term policy. On a fixed-term deal, he believes Williams is now a completely different offer than it was “three years ago” – one that could convince a driver of Sainz’s caliber to join.

“The fact that we are talking to Carlos shows you that we have changed our approach,” he told Sky Sports F1.

“We want two world-class drivers to be part of our stable moving forward. We want the world to know that we are here and that we are serious.

“We are investing in what it takes to get back to the front. In 2026, we have one of the best, if not the best, power units coming to our cars.

“We will soon be announcing, I hope, about 30 great people from other teams joining our organization that we have been gathering over the last 12 months.

“The world is changing and someone like Carlos will hold a very high profile in our eyes in terms of the big big picture of where we are.

“Of course he has a choice whether he wants to come here or not. This is what he has to do.

“I think you can see all the strengths. It's easy for me to say that because I'm Williams and I wear the shirt. I think coming here is an easy decision, but he has to be the one to make it.”

Sainz did not indicate the exact criteria necessary to select either team. While Audi has plenty of advantages – including the leadership of Andreas Seidl, Sainz's old boss at McLaren – Williams appears well placed to match most of them and offer others of its own. It's a smarter, more independent organisation, potentially giving Sainz some flexibility in a contract that Audi doesn't favour.

It may seem counterintuitive that a manufacturer like Audi would open itself up to the embarrassment of hiring a driver who could be gone after just two years. A vote of no confidence like that, in a huge financial project, would be terrible. While for Williams, getting Sainz for two years is already a major victory, it would then be possible to keep him if the promised progress is achieved.

Ultimately, neither is an amazing choice for a driver of Sainz's caliber. They are two of the bottom three teams in the Championship, with poor track records of late, and for good reason. Sainz is choosing between the least bad options for his next career move.

But within this context, Williams is compelling. It speaks to a good long-term play, backed by strong leadership and clear investment from its owner. But with the low hanging fruit in terms of weight gain, and a terrible 2023/24 winter that will certainly not be repeated, this could make rapid progress in the short term as well.

Meanwhile, Sauber have had a relentlessly terrible season so far and there is little reason to hope for the same. It now has the slowest car on average – and that's what Audi takes over. So, competitively, the case for going to Audi is weaker than it has been since its Formula 1 plans became official in the summer of 2022.

In 2025 and 2026, there is a real chance that Williams will perform better than Sauber and then Audi. Is it enough to give Sainz everything he wants? No, probably not. But it may be better than many think.

This is not a prediction of a Williams boom in 2014, but it is conceivable that Williams will have the best engine in Formula 1 and has improved so much that it can produce a chassis good enough to take advantage of that, regularly scoring points and perhaps sniping. To get the result of the strange title.

That's why, although Vowles is certainly aware of how attractive Audi is for Sainz, he can be really confident that Williams makes a legitimately good case in his own right.


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