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Horner not ruling out Red Bull move for ‘nemesis’ Sainz

Christian Horner has admitted that Red Bull’s current “nemesis” Carlos Sainz – the only driver from a rival team to win races in the past 16 months – cannot be discounted as a contender for the vacant seat at the F1 world champions for 2025.

Sainz, who began his F1 career as a Red Bull-backed driver at what was Toro Rosso alongside Max Verstappen in 2015, broke his former team-mate’s nine-race winning streak with an accomplished drive for Ferrari in Melbourne on Sunday.

The victory came just 15 days after the Spanish driver underwent surgery to remove his appendix.

Verstappen’s winning run had started in Japan last September – the race after Sainz at the Singapore GP had ended the Dutchman’s record of 10 wins in succession.

Sainz is currently without a drive for next season after Ferrari in February signed seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton to replace him.

And as the three-time race winner quipped to Sky Sports F1 after Sunday’s race: “I’m still jobless for next year so at least that [winning] is good for me!”

The in-form Spaniard’s status as a free agent was not lost on Horner, who broke away from answering a question about RB’s Yuki Tsunoda prospects for 2025 to praise Sainz – who he also quipped “appears to be our nemesis” on the track given his two recent wins.

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Listen to the incredible commentary from Sky Italia as Carlos Sainz stormed to victory in Melbourne and Ferrari claimed a one-two at the Australian Grand Prix.

Red Bull currently have a decision to make over the seat next to Verstappen with Sergio Perez’s deal expiring at the end of the year.

“I think we want to field the best pairing that we can at Red Bull Racing and sometimes you’ve got to look outside the pool as well,” said Horner.

“You’ve had a very fast unemployed driver win today so the market is reasonably fluid with certain drivers.”

Asked if he would take Sainz back into the Red Bull fold, Horner replied: “Look, based on a performance like that you couldn’t rule any possibility out. So I think we just want to take the time.

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Highlights of the Australian GP from Albert Park, Melbourne.

“Obviously Checo [Perez] was compromised today, he’s had a great start to the season too, so we’re not in any desperate rush.”

While Verstappen dropped out of the Melbourne race inside four laps with a brake failure, Perez took fifth in a car that was carrying debris in its floor. The Mexican driver had finished runner-up to his team-mate in the new season’s first two races.

Who will Sainz end up signing for? | ‘I’m just enjoying myself’

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Sky Sports’ Craig Slater discusses Carlos Sainz’s future following the Ferrari driver’s victory in Australia and looks at the current World Drivers’ Championship standings.

In addition to Red Bull, Sainz has already been linked with Mercedes – and the seat his replacement Hamilton is vacating – Aston Martin and Sauber, who German giant Audi are taking full control of ahead of their F1 entry in 2026.

The 29-year-old admitted his latest win “does no harm” to his prospects for next season.

“I think everyone knows more or less what I’m capable of doing,” said Sainz, who has raced in 185 grands prix.

“I do race for myself. I race to keep proving to myself that I can win whenever I get a competitive car and whenever there’s an opportunity to win in a weekend.

“I don’t race to prove to team principals or to prove to people my value. I race to prove to myself that if I’m given a car, I can get it done and I can be up there, you know, and that’s the mentality and the approach that I have and I will keep having the rest of the year.”

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Team-mate Charles Leclerc and former team-mate Lando Norris share their thoughts on Carlos Sainz following his triumph in Melbourne.

Ferrari is already Sainz’s fourth team in 10 seasons of F1.

Signed to Red Bull’s famed junior programme as a 15-year-old in 2010, Sainz made his F1 debut with Toro Rosso alongside Verstappen in 2015 but it was the Dutchman who was promoted to the senior team when Red Bull dropped Daniil Kvyat early into the following campaign.

Sainz eventually joined Renault on loan from Red Bull for the final four races of 2017 and then stayed on for a full season the following year. But the big-money arrival of Daniel Ricciardo at Enstone for 2019, and Red Bull’s decision not to recall him to fill the departing Australian’s place, led to the cutting of his long-time ties with his parent team and the start of a new chapter in his career at McLaren, where he impressed for two seasons next to Lando Norris.

Ferrari then came calling after they decided not to renew Sebastian Vettel’s contract, with Sainz now into his fourth season of providing strong competition to the highly-rated Charles Leclerc. The Ferrari team-mates are now tied on three race wins apiece since Sainz’s arrival in 2021.

Carlos Sainz’s F1 career so far

Seasons Team Best result
2015-2017 Toro Rosso 4th
2017-2018 Renault 5th
2019-2020 McLaren 2nd
2021-2024 Ferrari 1st (x3)

But despite Ferrari’s early signing of Hamilton for next year having created uncertainty over his own future, and the fact he then missed the Saudi Arabian GP due to appendicitis, Sainz says he is simply enjoying living in the moment.

“I just feel happy. Honestly, I’m just very, very happy because it’s not been an easy year for me,” he told Sky Sports F1 after Sunday’s race.

“You start in January suddenly with the news of the non-renewal and this gives you a morale hit and you think ‘ok, what next?’

“Then I go training and I say ‘ok, I’m going to anyway get ready for this season, push flat out, do my winter testing, do my winter preparation’. Arrive to the first race and, bang, a good podium and then I go ‘ok, this is my season’ and can I keep putting myself out there?

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Carlos Sainz and Frederic Vasseur celebrate Ferrari’s huge victory in Australia!

“Then suddenly the appendix and you say ‘how out of shape am I going to be the next race, when I am going to be able to be back?’ 10 days in bed and then suddenly you come back and win.

“So it just shows that life is beautiful in that way sometimes and gives you these opportunities and now, rather than thinking about my future, I’m just enjoying myself with such a good moment in my life.”

Formula 1’s biggest ever season continues with the Japanese Grand Prix, live on Sky Sports F1 from April 5-7. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime

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