Sainz back in the frame for 2025 Mercedes race seat

Fri, 5 July 2024, 09:31

Jul.5 (GMM) Carlos Sainz is suddenly back in the frame to become Lewis Hamilton’s successor at Mercedes next year.

Earlier, team boss Toto Wolff ruled out the ousted Ferrari driver for 2025 because he was leaving the seat open until as late as November in case Max Verstappen suddenly decided to leave Red Bull.

It’s a risk-free strategy for Mercedes, given that Wolff’s clear ‘plan B’ is to give his own 17-year-old protege Kimi Antonelli his Formula 1 debut next year.

“I would have liked to have chosen Carlos,” Wolff admitted earlier this week, “because he is very underrated and he works hard.

“But I don’t think he can wait as long as we need, because we might not make a decision until November.”

And now, ahead of the weekend’s British GP at Silverstone, Wolff is once again not completely ruling out 29-year-old Spaniard Sainz for the 2025 seat.

“Kimi and George (Russell) have been our junior drivers for a long time and I would like to stay faithful to the programme,” he told El Mundo Deportivo newspaper.

“Having said that, with Carlos, we’d have a sure thing, especially in a very tight championship next year,” Wolff added. “If our car is good, to have another driver who is definitely going to be very competitive would be a help.

“There are certainly many arguments in favour of him (Sainz). So yes, he is (an option). If we have more time to decide, Carlos is definitely still an opportunity.

“Of course, he needs to make his decision based on what he does with the other teams,” Wolff said.

A few weeks ago, Sainz admitted he was under serious pressure from his 2025 alternatives – Audi-owned Sauber and Williams – to make a decision, but then new Alpine advisor Flavio Briatore revealed he is also pushing hard for the 3-time GP winner’s signature.

“I thank Flavio for his words,” Sainz said at Silverstone on Thursday, “because they come from someone who has been here for a long time and has seen great drivers.”

And so, as Sainz suddenly has new options that are apparently more willing to wait, the 29-year-old says he will not be pushed into a quick decision.

“From Monday to Thursday I have a lot of calls, a lot of meetings with my team and the teams I speak to, to try to understand and get a perspective on the situation,” he said. “It’s stressful and time-consuming instead of switching off and recharging. The head is somewhere else.

“But I’m not a hypocrite. I won’t deny that there are always more benefits when you’re in a stable contractual situation. I won’t deny that,” Sainz admitted.

“But I think I will take all the time I can to make the decision, because it influences the next years of my life and my career and it is legitimate for me to take my time,” he told Spanish journalists at Silverstone.

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