Sainz is the cork in the bottle in the F1 driver market puzzle

Spaniard Carlos Sainz and Ferrari walk through the paddock during the preview of the 2024 F1 Spanish Grand Prix at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 20, 2024 in Barcelona, ​​Spain.

Carlos Sainz of Spain and Ferrari walk through the paddock during the preview of the F1 Spanish Grand Prix at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 20, 2024 in Barcelona, ​​​​Spain. | Photo credit: Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton’s shocking pre-season revelation that he would leave Mercedes to join Charles Leclerc at Ferrari next season sent the Formula 1 driver market rumour mill churning faster than ever.

Many drivers are now eagerly awaiting the announcement of Carlos Sainz’s next step, as seven-time champion Hamilton replaces him at the Scuderia.

“Carlos is the cork in the bottle. We are all waiting for him to do something and then all the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place,” said Haas driver Kevin Magnussen on Thursday.

Sainz dashed any hopes his paddock rivals had of being able to announce a decision at his home Grand Prix in Spain this weekend.

“The latest news says that I will make a decision very soon,” he said.

“I don’t want to wait any longer, it’s been bothering me for several months.

“But I’m not sure, I’m not sure.

“I’m discussing it with my (management) team, I need a few quiet days at home.

“The last few weeks have been very hectic and I haven’t had time to make a decision yet,” he added.

A direct swap with Sainz’s move to Mercedes seems unlikely.

If the Formula 1 rumor mill is to be believed, Mercedes is apparently keen to replace Hamilton in 2025 with the young Formula 2 driver Kimi Antonelli and to compete alongside George Russell.

A possible new employer for Sainz, who won in Australia this season, is Williams, who would take Logan Sargeant’s place alongside Alex Albon.

Sauber, Audi’s future F1 factory team, is also interested in the Spaniard.

Alpine is parting ways with Esteban Ocon for next season. The position of his teammate Pierre Gasly has yet to be confirmed.

At Haas, Nico Hülkenberg will move to Sauber next year, leaving uncertainty about the future of Sauber’s current duo Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu.

Magnussen’s contract with Haas expires at the end of this season; Oliver Bearman will join the Ferrari team.

The young driver from the Ferrari Academy shone when he stepped in for Sainz, who was suffering from appendicitis, in Saudi Arabia and will be behind the wheel of Hülkenberg’s Haas in the first practice session in Spain on Friday.

Yuki Tsunoda has received a contract extension with Red Bull’s junior team RB until at least 2025, but it is questionable whether Daniel Ricciardo will still be at his side next season.

Last time in Montreal, Ricciardo finished in the points.

“I needed a result like that in Canada,” he said.

“I want to stay in the Red Bull family. I really don’t see myself anywhere else, but I have to earn my place,” he added.

Fernando Alonso is fully committed to the Aston Martin project; the Spanish veteran has a contract until at least the end of 2026.

And it is hard to imagine team owner Lawrence Stroll firing his son and Alonso’s teammate Lance.

McLaren is sticking with its exciting duo of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, while Sergio Perez has just signed a new two-year contract to remain teammate of three-time world champion Max Verstappen at Red Bull.

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