Carlos Sainz is set to move away from Ferrari at the end of his current contract, which expires at the conclusion of next season.
Sainz and team-mate Charles Leclerc are both only contracted until the end of 2024; however, it’s been suggested that Leclerc has agreed to a new deal taking him to the end of 2026.
Leclerc’s rumoured deal is believed to have an option for an additional three seasons, taking him all the way to the conclusion of 2029.
This is remarkably beyond Max Verstappen’s long-term lucrative deal with Red Bull, which concludes in 2028.
Whilst Leclerc’s future seemingly with Ferrari, Sainz’s appears much more uncertain.
Little has been said about a potential contract extension for the Spaniard, who has now been linked with a dramatic move to Sauber for 2025.
This would be so that the 28-year-old is with Audi in 2026, when the German manufacturers joins the pinnacle of motorsport through the Sauber team.
By 2026, Audi will have acquired 75% of the Sauber F1 team, with it to become an Audi works team when the new power unit regulations are introduced.
Sainz reportedly has a pre-contract agreement with the Hinwil-based side, but it should be noted that this isn’t legally binding in F1.
The Spanish driver could still choose to stay with Ferrari should he be offered a new deal, regardless of what pre-contract deal is in place with Sauber/Audi.
Sainz clearly wants to get his contract situation sorted soon, with him not being a fan of entering a new season unsure of where he’ll be the following year.
“I do prefer starting a season knowing where I’m going to be the following year,” said Sainz at the Belgian Grand Prix.
“Because that takes away the distraction that there always is to be negotiating a new contract when you need to be fully focused on what you’re doing on track and on the work you have to do with the team you’re currently with.”
Should Sainz depart Ferrari at the end of 2024, it’d make one of the most exclusive seats on the grid available, something which would most definitely be fought for.