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Montoya: Does Sainz really want to go to Audi?

seidl sainz f1 Montoya: Does Sainz really want to go to Audi?

Amid speculation that Carlos Sainz will move to Audi at the end of 2024, Juan Pablo Montoya is not so sure it will be such a good move for the Spaniard who he reckons is “a nice fit” for Ferrari.

Increasingly frustrated with the great Italian team, led by Fred Vasseur, Sainz has never been shy to hide his emotions. Increasingly he berates the team over the radio and has on occasions defied team strategy instructions to do things his way; even in the heat of battle.

The link to Audi’s F1 project is logical in that his former McLaren Team Principal Andreas Seidl heads the project. By all accounts there is respect between the two and a deal is all but inked; depending on who you believe, of course.

In an interview with former Williams and McLaren F1 driver Montoya questioned why Sainz would depart the Scuderia: “Does he really want to go to Audi? I think he is a really nice fit for Ferrari.

“His way of working and his way of doing things is more what Ferrari needs, in my opinion than anything else. When driving for Ferrari you need a little bit of spice and I think that Carlos Sainz brings that,” reckoned Montoya.

That might be the crux of the problem. Maybe Sainz, bred into F1 by Red Bull through Toro Rosso, turned out to be too good a driver for a team that perhaps expected him to support their chosen one, homegrown Charles Leclerc. Which was never going to work as both believe they are better than the other.

Sainz never went to Ferrari to play second fiddle to Leclerc

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In fairness, Sainz is not as quick as Leclerc in qualifying, or on one hot lap. The Spaniard’s strength is his race acumen, strategy and non-stop thinking. More in the mould of Alain Prost than Ayrton Senna, while Leclerc is more towards the latter.

Montoya said of Leclerc: “I think Charles does a really good job too and he’s been a Ferrari boy for a long time so they really like him and he’s really, really quick.”

The Columbian, a seven-time Grand Prix winner, pointed out that the Monegasque tends to get away with a quick tongue when in the heat of battle or in the middle of the action, much like Sainz not shy to berate his team: “I’m surprised he can get away with running his mouth left and right.

“He’s very opinionated during races and he’s angry about things. It’s great because it shows he has a lot of passion. But I’m just surprised that Ferrari are okay with it,” added Montoya.

Meanwhile, Ferrari have not officially shown signs of giving up on their current driver beyond 2024 – both their contracts are up for renewal at the end of next year. But reports mount suggesting Leclerc will remain the focus of attention for the Scuderia’s quest for the F1 Drivers’ Title.

Vasseur: Carlos can control his speed and does it a bit better than Charles

Vasseur: A top team, can't have another target than win

That won’t sit well with Sainz, but Vasseur is revealing little and clearly has respect for the driver: “Carlos is very consistent. He can control his speed and does it a bit better than Charles. He isn’t ‘overdriving’. He doesn’t have the big peaks like Charles, when he takes pole positions, for example, but he then is very close. In Miami, he was on the pole until the last corner. He limits the big mistakes and is always there.”

But the Audi connection won’t go away. As Vasseur did recently, Seidl once spoke glowingly of Sainz when they worked together at McLaren, the German observed after his driver finished fifth at a challenging 2020 Turkish Grand Prix: “We know from previous races in the last years that he likes all of these tricky conditions, he likes these wet or mixed conditions.

“We know that he is performing well in these conditions and that he has this talent to take the right approach in terms of risk. And he manages to keep the car on track while still making progress on track, and making the moves stick,” recalled Seidl.

From Sainz’s side the feelings for Seidl are mutual: “Andreas did a very good job for McLaren. I only have positive things to say about Andreas, I admire him and have learned a lot from him over the past few months, including about his management style.

“I would like to thank Andreas for that because as a driver you naturally always want to be praised by the boss. That’s always good. Andreas knows more than anyone how I work, how I approach the races and he also knows where I am strong.

“There is nothing better than when your boss, who follows every race closely, evaluates you,” added Sainz before he departed to Ferrari, where he has remained since 2021. But for how much longer? And Audi? Really?