Audi want to poach Ferrari driver amid Lewis Hamilton being linked to the team

Carlos Sainz is currently contracted to Ferrari until the end of 2024.

It has been reported by Blick that Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz is Audi’s top target for their F1 team in 2026, when the German manufacturer will join Formula 1.

Audi will join the pinnacle of motorsport once the new engine regulations are introduced, with the VW-owned manufacturer having struck a strategic partnership with Sauber, which will see Audi have a 75-percent stake in the Sauber F1 team in 2026.

As a result, Audi will effectively have their own factory team in 2026, of which they’ll supply the power units.

With 2026 fast approaching, attention has started to turn as to who could form their first driver line-up, with many in Germany calling for Mick Schumacher to be given a seat.

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Schumacher has been linked to Audi since rumours began to circulate that the Germans were going to join F1, with it being a partnership that does make complete sense.

A German driver racing for a German team would do wonders for their image; however, Schumacher arguably isn’t a number one driver just yet.

With this in mind, Sainz is reportedly Audi’s top target, with him certainly being capable of leading a team.

The Spaniard has performed well wherever he’s been in F1, with his career so far having taken him from Toro Rosso, to Renault, to McLaren and to Ferrari.

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He’s also started the 2023 season considerably better than team-mate Charles Leclerc, perhaps adding to his value.

Sainz’s contract is currently set to expire at the end of 2024, meaning he’d likely need only a one-year deal for 2025 to make a move to Audi for 2026 possible.

Audi’s F1 project is certainly starting to make some progress, with Audi board member Oliver Hoffmann having shared this week that the project has “really taken off”.

“The Audi Formula 1 project has really taken off in recent months,” Hoffmann said at the Auto Shanghai car show.

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“In the ongoing concept phase of the power unit, the foundation of our drivetrain for 2026 is being laid today.

“We attach great importance to detail work, for example on materials or manufacturing technologies, and we also focus on topics such as the energy management of the hybrid drivetrain.

“After all, efficiency is a key success factor for Formula 1 and the mobility of the future, [and] these approaches will advance both worlds.”