Jacques Villeneuve Cautions Carlos Sainz on Risks of Moving to Newcomer Audi F1 Team

Despite securing wins, including a recent victory in Australia, and currently outperforming his soon-to-be successor in the 2024 standings, Sainz's options seem limited.

Former Formula 1 champion Jacques Villeneuve has expressed concerns about Carlos Sainz’s potential move to Audi, suggesting that newer teams like Audi might pose a higher risk of exiting the sport.

As Sainz approaches the end of his tenure with Ferrari—set to be replaced by Lewis Hamilton in 2025—he finds himself at a career crossroads.

Despite securing wins, including a recent victory in Australia, and currently outperforming his soon-to-be successor in the 2024 standings, Sainz’s options seem limited.

With Fernando Alonso renewing his contract at Aston Martin, Sainz’s choices are narrowed to the upcoming Audi works team, slated to absorb Sauber in 2026, or Williams.

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Despite a successful start to the season with multiple podiums, Villeneuve, who clinched Williams’ last titles in 1997, favors his old team over the newcomer.

He argues that building a successful team requires time, something Audi, despite its resources, cannot instantly acquire.

“Well, they’re [Audi] joining with a team that hasn’t been any good for so many years.

“And, you just can’t invent know-how,” Villeneuve told Sports Illustrated.

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“It’s something that you build over time. You can see it with Williams.

“You know, they stay kind of good for a while, but you pay the price of pay drivers, of all that, you pay it late.

“And now the team has been rebuilding, but it doesn’t happen overnight. It also takes time. So, it won’t happen overnight.”

Sauber, which competed as Alfa Romeo last year, hasn’t made a significant impact since its return to Formula 1 in 2024, with drivers Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas yet to score in the season’s first four races.

Villeneuve highlighted the volatility associated with new manufacturers in F1, noting their potential for abrupt departures, contrasting with teams like Williams, deeply entrenched in the sport’s ecosystem.

“What’s dangerous with constructors when they come in is they can easily in five minutes decide, ‘okay, we’re gone, bye’ and they leave and they don’t care,” Villeneuve explained.

“They’re great for the sport, but they’re also very dangerous in that respect. Where a team like Williams cannot leave. It exists with and because of F1.”

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As for Sainz, he remains focused amidst the uncertainties, securing three podium finishes this season despite missing one race due to appendicitis.

Reflecting on the improved performance, Sainz said, “Last year, we just [had] zero flexibility and we couldn’t do anything without racing, so it looked like we were not getting the strategy right a lot of times.

“But when you have a car that is better on tires, two drivers that can push on the car more often and you have that extra flexibility, your strategy also looks better.”