No. 2 - Sauber/Audi
Even before the Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari rumor was actually taken seriously this time around, it had long been speculated that Ferrari would not be extending Carlos Sainz Jr.'s contract beyond the conclusion of the 2024 season, which is set to be his fourth season with the team.
Early last season, it was said that he was considered Audi's top target for when they officially enter the sport in 2026 following their takeover of Sauber. Further reports even suggested that he and the German manufacturer had reached somewhat of a "pre-contract" agreement.
While Audi's Formula 1 entry is not slated to come until 2026, it has always seemed rather imperative for the organization to target the driver or drivers they want for that project in 2025 as opposed to waiting until 2026, given just how many drivers are seeking new contracts after the 2024 season.
Now with Sainz officially out at Ferrari and seeking new opportunities, a move to Sauber for 2025 to make him the face of Audi for 2026 and beyond seems only logical. The question is whether he would replace the veteran Valtteri Bottas or Zhou Guanyu.