Who will Carlos Sainz drive for next season? Potential F1 teams for Ferrari driver in 2025

Carlos Sainz is currently without a seat for the 2025 Formula 1 season after it was announced Lewis Hamilton would leave Mercedes to join Ferrari next year.

The Spaniard is the only non-Red Bull driver to have won a race across the past two campaigns, so he will no doubt be on several teams’ radars.

Red Bull, Mercedes, Aston Martin, Sauber, Alpine, Williams and Haas all have open seats for 2025 and are therefore potential candidates to sign Sainz.

The Sporting News outlines some of the most likely options for Sainz once he departs the Scuderia.

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Who will Carlos Sainz drive for next season? 

Mercedes

Could we see a direct swap between Sainz and Hamilton in 2025?

Mercedes will no doubt be disappointed to lose a seven-time world champion from their team, but Sainz would be a very strong replacement.

Not only has Sainz (Australia 2024) won a race more recently than Hamilton (Saudi Arabia 2021), but he is also 10 years younger.

If he were to link up with 26-year-old George Russell, the Silver Arrows would have themselves a nice long-term duo.

However, Mercedes have been linked strongly with F2 young gun Kimi Antonelli.

Do they take a risk on a teenager, or bring in someone more established like Sainz?

Carlos Sainz Ferrari 2023

Ferrari Media Gallery

Red Bull

If Red Bull decide to move on from Sergio Perez, Sainz could be reunited with Max Verstappen.

The pair were teammates at junior team Toro Rosso from 2015 to 2016.

Red Bull is a high-pressure environment, although the same can be said about Ferrari.

If Sainz is prepared to be the ‘second driver’ alongside Verstappen, he could enjoy plenty of success with the reigning constructors’ champions. 

Audi/Sauber 

Sainz has been tipped to join Sauber, with the team to enter the grid as Audi in 2026.

The Spaniard’s father – Carlos Sainz Sr. – has strong links with Audi and currently drives for them in the annual Dakar Rally.

Audi will likely make a strong push to sign Sainz, who would be an ideal fit at a new team.

MORE: Which driver has the most podium finishes in F1 history?

There is a chance, however, he doesn’t join until 2026 if Sauber stick with their current pairing of Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou for next season before they officially switch to Audi.

It would make sense to bring Sainz in as early as possible, though.

Aston Martin

Fernando Alonso’s contract with Aston Martin expires at the end of 2024, and while his performances warrant an extension, the veteran will receive plenty of interest from other teams.

Aston Martin showed plenty of promise at the start of 2023, but lost some of their footing later in the season.

The potential is absolutely there though, which would make them an exciting option for Sainz. 

Team owner Lawrence Stroll has championship ambitions and Sainz has already proven he possesses race-winning ability. 

Why is Lewis Hamilton moving to Ferrari?

As an iconic racing brand, Ferrari have been looking for a driver to match its illustrious pedigree for some time and has struggled – relatively speaking – in recent years on the track. Ferrari has not had a driver world champion since Kimi Raikkonen won in 2007.

Chairman John Elkann wanted to land a big name and has reportedly long been a fan of Hamilton, per ESPN. With Ferrari’s No. 2 driver Carlos Sainz in contract discussions, that created an opening for Hamilton at Ferrari.

MORE: Your guide to the 2024 Formula 1 season

It’s not entirely clear what prompted Hamilton’s exit from Mercedes. He and Mercedes have endured back-to-back disappointing seasons, with his most recent win coming in late 2021.

Despite that, Hamilton still signed an extension with Mercedes, inking a two-year deal on August 31, 2023.

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 031523

getty images

Hamilton has been connected with Ferrari at points throughout his career, including during his 2023 contract negotiations with Mercedes. However, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was confident that while Hamilton and Ferrari met, his man would remain with Mercedes.

The allure of racing for the iconic brand of Ferrari, coupled with long-term concerns over winning at Mercedes, may have resulted in Hamilton changing teams. Though Ferrari, like other racing teams, have struggled to keep up with Red Bull, so the chance to win with an iconic brand could further build on the historic legacy Hamilton has already cultivated within the sport.

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