Why Leclerc deal leaves Sainz with tricky dilemma


Silly season 2024 already seems to be underway with the Bahrain Grand Prix still over a month away.

Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris have extended their stays at Ferrari and McLaren respectively, with plenty of rumours being spread surrounding the futures of other drivers.

One of the main protagonists when the silly season rumour mill starts churning for good may be Leclerc’s Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz, who has a contract that is expiring.

Talks have been revealed to be ongoing yet nothing has yet come from those discussions and with the Spaniard likely to hold out for a long-term contract having been burned at Renault at the end of last decade, a sticking point may have been found.

With Leclerc a product of Ferrari’s own development pathway, Sainz is unlikely to be the number one option anyway and whilst sides not be chosen early in the season, the Monégasque is most likely to be favoured.

So will Sainz stay or go?

Audi?

For Sainz, a new deal with Ferrari seems to be the most attractive at the moment.

There are few options at any of the other top teams: a Red Bull move wouldn’t work due to his “toxic” relationship with Max Verstappen, as described by Helmut Marko, whilst McLaren and Mercedes have existing deals with their drivers.

One rumour that keeps cropping up is a move to join Audi when the German marque takes over the Sauber team from 2026. The Spaniard has existing links through father, Carlos Sr, who just won the Dakar Rally with the brand.

He said: “Audi is always a certainty.

“In fact, I know how seriously they take every project. And I also know well what the famous German mentality means in practice, both the good sides and certain not-so-good sides.

“But we just have to have a lot of respect for the Volkswagen Group with Audi as part of it.

“And of course, it makes sense to talk about what Audi can manage, especially since I am a member of that Audi family.”

What will Sainz do?

It is now up to Sainz to decide what is best for him. Accept an uncertain challenge with a new factory team or stay with Ferrari while the Scuderia potentially favours Leclerc? It’s a tricky dilemma.

Maybe it will pay to wait and see how he performs in the early season. Sainz does find himself in a position where he can quietly see how the relationship with Ferrari continues, but it is never nice to have to gamble on a contract or a seat.

He may have finished six points behind Leclerc in the championship but Sainz was the only non-Red Bull winner of a Grand Prix last term, so he should be in title contention if Ferrari takes a suitable step forward.



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