Carlos Sainz landing spots: No. 3 - Red Bull
Despite the fact that he was the second half of Red Bull's first ever 1-2 finish in the driver standings in 2023, Sergio Perez struggled throughout the season, with teammate Max Verstappen consistently dominating him on the race track in equal machinery.
At one point, pundits dubbed Perez the favorite to beat Verstappen. From that point forward, Verstappen won 17 out of 18 races. Perez, winless during that stretch, only finished runner-up three times.
The consensus seems to be that Red Bull will look to replace Perez after the 2024 season, barring a significant improvement. Even another runner-up finish in the standings may not cut it if he is handily beaten by Verstappen. Keep in mind, Verstappen's gap to Perez in 2023 ended up being a larger number than Perez's point total.
With Charles Leclerc, a potential "dream team" Red Bull target, off the table, could Carlos Sainz Jr. get the opportunity to return to the organization with which he had hoped to compete in Formula 1 several years ago?
Sainz began his career with Red Bull sister team Toro Rosso and was Verstappen's teammate in 2015 and for the first few races of the 2016 season. Despite moving to Renault before the 2017 season ended, he remained under contract with Red Bull until he moved to McLaren in 2019.
As the only non-Red Bull winner in what was the most dominant season by a single team (and driver) in Formula 1 history, Sainz deserves to be in consideration along with some of the favorites such as Daniel Ricciardo and Liam Lawson.