Formula 1: Shock rumor could shake up the driver market

Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari, Formula 1 (Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari, Formula 1 (Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images) /

The hottest rumor in Formula 1 now pertains to Carlos Sainz Jr., as speculation of his pre-contract with Audi from 2025 has turned several heads his way.

Carlos Sainz Jr.’s recently rumored agreement to leave Ferrari and join Audi after the 2024 Formula 1 season emerged as somewhat of a surprise.

The timing of the rumor is quite interesting, with teammate Charles Leclerc also recently rumored to have signed a new deal that extends his Ferrari stay through 2029.

Speculation over the Spaniard’s deal began after he made some remarks regarding his future at the Belgian Grand Prix.

"“I do prefer starting a season knowing where I’m going to be the following year. 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.”"

With a pre-contract agreement not being legally binding in Formula 1, we could still see Sainz continue with Ferrari beyond 2024. Nevertheless, potential confirmation of this pre-contract agreement would shake up the driver market.

The biggest focus would be on Ferrari, as an open seat at the Scuderia will be eyed by several drivers on the Formula 1 grid.

As the team from Maranello look to stay competitive for years to come, they will definitely assess all of their options when it comes to who could form the best partnership with Leclerc.

An open seat at Red Bull could be on the cards as well, with Sergio Perez’s contract set to expire at the end of the 2024 season. As a result, the 2025 driver market could be wide open, with two highly competitive teams potentially having openings.

Based on who is currently on the grid, we could see McLaren teammates Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, Alpine teammates Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon, and Williams’ Alex Albon in contention for either one of those two openings.

However, the Audi project itself could entice some talented drivers for the 2026 season as well, given their expectation of being a competitive team from the beginning.

With three key teams expected to have openings — potentially four, depending on Lewis Hamilton’s next contract (or lack thereof) with Mercedes — several unexpected deals could take everyone by surprise in the coming year or so.

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Despite the fact that everything remains in the speculation phase surrounding these potential openings, these possibilities are quite plausible, and Sainz’s rumored pre-contract with Audi from 2025 could turn silly season on its ear.