Advertisement

Carlos Sainz, ‘the cork in the bottle’ in the F1 driver lineup for 2025, to pick new team soon

MONTMELÓ, Spain (AP) — When Kevin Magnussen was asked why he and other drivers still don’t know if they will be racing in Formula 1 next season, the Dane pointed a finger — literally— at Carlos Sainz.

“Carlos is the cork in the bottle,” Magnussen said while gesturing at Sainz during a news conference ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix on Thursday.

“I think a lot of guys are waiting for him to make a move and then all the other pieces of the puzzle will follow," Haas' veteran driver said.

It is no secret that Sainz is the top F1 talent up for grabs for 2025 after Ferrari struck a deal to bring in seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and handed Charles Leclerc a contract extension.

Sainz, for his part, said he doesn't want to drag out his decision.

“A decision will be taken very soon. I don’t want to wait any longer. It is getting to the point where it is taking space from my head in recent weeks,” Sainz said.

Williams has openly courted Sainz, while other teams like Sauber could also have a post open. Mercedes appears to be a long shot, but the German side will have to replace Hamilton.

“I am still not sure one way or another,” Sainz said. “I am still discussing this with my team and brainstorming. I haven’t had time to sit down and take a decision and that is what I will do in the next weeks.”

The 29-year-old Sainz has only barely been edged in points totals by Leclerc the last two seasons, and he was the only driver outside the Red Bull pair of Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez to win a race in 2023. Sainz scored his third race win in Australia in March.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff recently said Sainz “deserves a top seat” but then appeared to dismiss the option that he would be alongside George Russell. Instead, Wolff said his team saw promise in 17-year-old F2 driver Andrea Kimi Antonelli.

Here is a look at what other drivers in the final year under contract said in Spain:

Daniel Ricciardo (RB)

Daniel Ricciardo wants to stay at RB, the junior team of Red Bull, but he wants to “earn it.”

RB already re-signed teammate Yuki Tsunoda for next season, and parent team Red Bull extended Sergio Perez’s contract, removing any chance of Ricciardo returning to the team where he reached his peak from 2014-18.

“I would like to stay now that I am back in the Red Bull family, I really don’t see myself anywhere else,” the 34-year-old Ricciardo said. “But obviously I want to earn it. I want to be here because I know that I still belong.”

The last of Ricciardo's eight career F1 victories was in 2021 while with Red Bull.

Valtteri Bottas (Sauber)

Valtteri Bottas is also unsure whether he will remain with Sauber, which will be taken over by German automaker Audi in 2026.

Bottas could only say that his future plans are “developing." He added, “This is not my first rodeo, so I will be okay.”

The Finnish pilot has also driven with Williams, Mercedes and Alfa Romeo. His 10th and last win came with Mercedes in 2021. Bottas has yet to score a point this season.

Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

Magnussen bagged 25 points for Haas in 2022, but that dropped to just three points last year. He has one point in this campaign.

The 31-year-old driver said he was not concerned about his future because he has already had periods away from F1, where he said “life is pretty good.”

“When I was younger I had a fear of being outside,” Magnussen said. “But now I am much more relaxed."

Haas teammate Nico Hülkenberg will depart for Sauber next winter.

Logan Sargeant (Williams)

Magnussen’s veteran calm could perhaps do wonders for the struggling Logan Sargeant, the only American driver in F1.

The Fort Lauderdale native is trying to bounce back from crashing out in Canada two weeks ago. Sargeant has one point in 30 races in F1.

In Montreal, Williams team principal James Vowles said Sargeant needed to “save his seat." Vowles also said, “The No. 1 target is Carlos (Sainz)” to team up with Alex Albon, whom Williams gave a contract extension to in May.

“It’s worth looking at all options," Sargeant said on Thursday. "There’s no reason not to in my position at the moment, but, nonetheless, it kind of goes back to the point that you just try and keep performing better. And, you know, you never know what doors open, or stay open.”

Estaban Ocon will also be looking for a new team after Alpine said this month that it would part ways. Pierre Gasly’s deal with Alpine is also running out.

___

AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing

Joseph Wilson, The Associated Press