Ferrari Lame Duck Carlos Sainz Jr. Sees Plenty of F1 Options After Current Season

Jackson Wheeler
9 Min Read

  • Carlos Sainz Jr. says that while he had a slight heads-up on the news the Lewis Hamilton would be replacing him at Ferrari after 2024, the development was “a bit of a surprise”
  • Sainz, who has two wins with Ferrari, believes his contribution to Ferrari’s recent results will aid talks elsewhere for 2025.
  • Sainz adds he will not rush into any decision about his future.

Carlos Sainz is in the unusual situation of preparing for a Formula 1 season with the fabled Ferrari team, while knowing he is out of the door come December.

Ferrari launched its 2024 car, the SF-24, on Tuesday, with both Sainz and Charles Leclerc putting the first miles on it at Fiorano, Italy, as part of a filming day.

It will be the last scarlet machine for Sainz as winter rumors of a contract extension were quashed when Lewis Hamilton pulled a surprise by signing a multi-year deal from 2025.

Sainz conceded that while he had a slight heads-up on the news, the development was “a bit of a surprise” but had now had “a bit of time to digest it,” ahead of the 2024 season.

Sainz, who has taken both of his career wins with Ferrari, believes his contribution to its recent results will aid talks elsewhere for 2025.

f1 grand prix of abu dhabi

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Carlos Sainz Jr. finished seventh in the F1 Constrctors’ Championship last season.

“I think once you’re a Ferrari driver you can go to every team from now on having been at Ferrari and having been a Ferrari driver—I think it does good for any driver on the grid,” he said. “On top of that if you add the fact that I’ve won races for Ferrari, I’ve made pole positions, I’ve got podiums, I think I have helped this team to move forward up the grid and to be a better team, then my overall feeling of these four years is definitely positive. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me as I’m sure there’s going to be good things coming”

Sainz was the only non-Red Bull driver to win a F1 race in 2023, emerging victorious in Singapore, and he was keen to stress that “the hunger to win races, and become champions, doesn’t change just because of what’s happening in 2025—the fact that I’m not going to be a Ferrari driver in 2025 doesn’t mean that we don’t want to become champions together this year or win races this year.”

Sainz had wanted his future resolved prior to the start of the 2024 season, but that was before the Hamilton development, and he says he will not rush into any call.

“I hope [2024] is not my last chance to go for a title, and obviously with so many options open for 2025 in the market I will also look for the most interesting ones in that sense. Probably my most important three or four years of my career [are coming up], where I want to make sure I’m in the right place at the right time, I want to make sure I pick the right next destination for me so I want to take my time to think about it, to listen to all the options, have a look at all the options.”

Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur said notifying Sainz of his exit “was one of the most difficult calls,” but reiterated that both parties are fully committed to each other “until the final corner of the final race.”

Vasseur labelled Ferrari’s signing of Hamilton for 2025 as “a huge opportunity” before adding the news was announced early to avoid any distractions for 2024. Consequently, Vasseur and Ferrari were keen to swiftly move the topic onto this upcoming year, his second at the helm of the famous red team.

Ferrari slipped to third in 2023, despite its status as the interloper among Red Bull’s victory spree, but finished the campaign in a significantly stronger state than the first half of the year. Continuing that momentum in early 2024 is therefore crucial.

“Only Bahrain will let us know (on the progress) because it’s not a matter to be happy with the development you made,” he said. “At the end of the day it’s a comparison: you can gain two seconds but if the others are doing three, you look stupid, and if they are doing one, you are the best of the world.

“At the end of the day, the judgement will be based on comparison. Now what is true, on our side, is it’s not just about performance, it’s about driveability, at least on the simulator so far we fixed the biggest part of the issue that we had and we will see in Bahrain if we fixed everything or not. Now will be the question about pure performance, it will be another story, but we identified last year the biggest weaknesses and we work on it and we did a step on this.”

Charles Leclerc noted that even after three laps at Fiorano on Tuesday he felt the car “as healthier and in a better place” compared to the starting point of its predecessor. That car spent much of last year as peaky, with a very narrow operating window, and was prone to wild performance fluctuations if even wind or surface conditions slightly changed.

“I think 2023, as much as it was a disappointing season as a whole, because we weren’t fighting for the positions we wanted to fight, I think it’s been a very good reaction from the team since the first race, when it was a disappointing result,” said Leclerc.

f1 grand prix of abu dhabi practice

Eurasia Sport Images//Getty Images

Carlos Sainz has two F1 wins in has career, both with Ferrari.

“I remember very clearly the moment we tested our particular [new parts] in Zandvoort, in free practice and we came back from Zandvoort and we all sat down and we had very clear results in front of our eyes and I think that gave a huge motivation to the team because we were like, okay, now we understand what are the weak points of the car, where we need to work, which direction we need to take, and from that point onwards everyone has been fully onboard with the directions taking and everything makes sense.

“And after three to four races we brought the new floor in Japan and straight away it was a step forward in terms of sensitivities with the wind, but also the front [of the car], I speak very often about wanting a strong front and that was a step forward as well, and I really hope this car can follow up the momentum that we’ve had since the second part of last year.”

Sainz declared that “obviously Red Bull and Verstappen are clear favorites for this year’s title, because of the advantage they have this year, and potentially how early they could start developing the 2024 car. But Ferrari finished in a strong way last season. We had a strong end to the season, so obviously we’re feeling confident too and we want to start the year how we ended last year, in a good progression.”

McLaren and Mercedes will continue launch season on Wednesday with the presentations of the MCL38 and W15 respectively.

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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