sainz f1 ferrari axed

Sainz: I had some weeks to reflect [on Ferrari axing]

sainz f1 ferrari axed

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz admitted he was surprised to learn that Lewis Hamilton will be taking his seat in 2025, but the Spaniard said he was aware of the move ahead of the big announcement on 1 February.

Sainz told reporters at Ferrari’s launch of its SF-24 car on Tuesday: “Everyone was surprised in a way with what happened and from my side, I got to know the news a bit earlier than everyone else. It’s true that I have had some weeks to reflect, to prepare and also get ready for the car launch and the first race of the season.

“So it gives you a bit of time to digest it, to take your own conclusions and to focus on the 2024 season and the race ahead. But the fact it was a surprise to the whole F1 world is no news and it was obviously also for me,” admitted Sainz.

Hamilton, a seven-time world champion, will join Charles Leclerc for Ferrari’s driver lineup next year. Leclerc, who signed a five-year extension last month, said the two have exchanged text messages.

“We’ve had discussions with Lewis, especially when everything was announced and official. He is a great champion with so much success. It is always interesting to have a new teammate as you learn different ways of working and driving — even more so when my new teammate is a seven-time world champion,” added Leclerc.

Sainz: There’s plenty of options out there

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Meanwhile, Sainz said he is focused on the upcoming season and will take his time to consider with which team he wants to race in 2025. With nearly half of the Formula 1 grid on expiring contracts this year, the veteran should have several options.

“There’s plenty of options out there and there is time to take an important decision in the next few months,” Sainz said and insisted that he still hoped to fight for a title in his final season at Ferrari, before Hamilton takes his seat, but would also remain a team player.

The 29-year-old Spaniard told reporters in a video call from the Fiorano test track, where Ferrari launched their new car on Tuesday, that he felt privileged to have worn the team’s red overalls for four years.

He said he had received plenty of messages of support, had been busy focusing on the season that starts in Bahrain on March 2 and was positive about the future.

“My overall feeling of these four years is definitely positive,” said the winner of two races for Ferrari, with five pole positions and three fastest laps, who last season was the only driver to beat Red Bull.

“I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me because I’m sure there’s going to be good things coming. It’s an important year for me because I’m still wearing red and I still have the target of becoming champion in Ferrari and I still have one more chance.”

Sainz: I have always been a team player…

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“My ultimate goal is to become F1 world champion in general. Then it’s who you achieve it with. Obviously ideally with Ferrari this year but if not there will be other opportunities and other chances hopefully in the future,” added Sainz

The shake-up at Maranello has made Sainz a key figure in the driver market for 2025.

The possibilities include Hamilton’s Mercedes seat, a place alongside triple world champion Max Verstappen at Red Bull and moving to Swiss-based Sauber, who will become the Audi factory team in 2026.

Sainz, who started in Formula 1 in 2015 with Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso, said he did not feel he needed to show anyone what he was capable of and would feel no more pressure to perform.

The target for 2024 remained the same as ever, with Sainz and teammate Leclerc still chasing Ferrari’s first championship since 2008.

“The fact that I’m not going to be a Scuderia Ferrari driver in 2025 doesn’t mean that we don’t want to become champions together this year or win races this year,” Sainz said.

“If anything I can focus even more on the present and more on the race by race, making sure I have the best possible car and feeling and not having to focus so much on development and on the future.”

Sainz said he would also still put the team first if required: “I have always been a team player… I have always been exemplary in that sense as a driver for any team. I will definitely help Charles if I have to, in the same way that I expect Charles to help me,” said Sainz. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)