Scrap for Carlos Sainz’s signature hots up - did Toto Wolff drop a key clue?

"Last week I have an opinion, this week I have a different one.”

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 11, Austrian Grand Prix, Spielberg, Austria, Race Day. -
Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 11,…

The battle for Carlos Sainz’s future is heating up at Silverstone.

The Ferrari driver will be replaced by Lewis Hamilton next season, so is plotting his next move.

The 2025 F1 driver line-up hinges on where Sainz pledges his future.

Williams, Sauber and Alpine are the three teams credited with the strongest interest, but Mercedes could surprisingly re-enter the mix.

Andrea Kimi Antonelli, their 17-year-old prodigy, is ninth in Formula 2 after seven rounds and Mercedes haven’t yet committed to him by offering him an F1 deal.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was asked by Mundo Deportivo if Sainz is still an option for him.

“I don't want to make a decision quickly. But yes, he is,” Wolff replied.

“If we have more time to decide, Carlos is definitely still an opportunity, but Carlos needs to make a decision about what he does with the other teams.

“I think we have narrowed down the group of drivers we want to work with in the future. And we want to make a decision in favour of what Mercedes can have in the next five-six years.

“And Kimi and George have been our junior drivers for a long time and I would like to stay true to the program.

“That said, with Carlos, you have a certain value, especially in a very close championship next year you have another driver who is going to be very competitive, who if our car is good, could help us secure a fight for the constructors' championship.

“There are certainly many arguments in favour. That's why I also want to take my time with the decision and keep all options open for as long as possible.

“And when I spoke to Carlos I already told him: ‘I'm not sure you can wait as long as I would like you to wait.’”

Wolff appeared to hint at Silverstone that Sainz had re-entered his thinking.

Wolff said about Antonelli, the apparent frontrunner for the 2025 Mercedes seat: “He has a lot of pressure. He’s been talked a lot about.

“His junior formula and go-karting track record is one of a kind. And that’s clear that the pressure ramps up.

“It’s like his father says, a champion needs to be thrown into cold water and needs to swim. So they are very clear about that.

“But the driver market at the moment is quite a dynamic, interesting thing. I think because some of the drivers have more options, and some of the teams have more options.

“So it’s… interesting. And you know it’s like Bernie said, last week I have an opinion, this week I have a different one.”

Have Alpine won the race for Sainz?

However, in Italy they are certain that Flavio Briatore’s Alpine will win the race for Sainz’s signature.

Briatore, who signed Michael Schumacher to Benetton and Fernando Alonso to Renault, has made an F1 comeback with Alpine.

He will convince Sainz to sign on the dotted line for Alpine in a project tailored to the 2026 engine rules, Gazzetta report.

Williams team principal James Vowles said at Silverstone he has prepared a Plan Y and Plan Z, if he loses out on Sainz.

“I’ll go back to saying he’s a world class driver,” Vowles said.

“The decision isn’t imminent. It’s not that we need to make it today, and what I’ve said all along is that the timeline isn’t important to me.

“What’s important is that whatever decision we come to or the driver comes to it’s about forging a long-term relationship with each other – i.e. we both see the journey we’re on and want that to be a part of their lives.

“I’m fairly sure you’ll see this all cleaned up before we get to September, which is the normal time if you look at it as a team.

“We are just now going back into a normal schedule where August is spent doing contracts, but I’m pretty sure you’ll find it all finalised by then.”

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