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Wolff not ruling out Sainz for 2025 Mercedes seat

Wolff not ruling out Sainz for 2025 Mercedes seat
© Reuters
Carlos Sainz got his quest for another top seat in Formula 1 off to a flying start in Bahrain by chasing home the dominant Red Bull one-two.

Carlos Sainz got his quest for another top seat in Formula 1 off to a flying start in Bahrain by chasing home the dominant Red Bull one-two.

Set to be replaced at Ferrari by Lewis Hamilton next year, the 29-year-old Spaniard is racing for his career - and eyeing a potential Audi future as well as the top Red Bull and Mercedes seats.

When asked about Sainz's impressive drive on Saturday, including overtaking moves on continuing Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, Mercedes' Toto Wolff admitted: "Carlos put in a very strong performance.

"He's probably still driving around with some anger," the team boss told Servus TV. "However, we focus on our team."

According to former Red Bull driver Robert Doornbos, however, Sainz is already focusing on 2025.

"This is his job interview," the Dutchman smiled to Ziggo Sport. "He clearly thinks 'I'm just doing my own thing this season, because no one has given me a seat yet.

"Team orders, forget it. And rightly so. I wouldn't be surprised if he had a world-class season with Ferrari. He drove like he was a fire engine."

Sainz's aggression, particularly in passing the sister Ferrari, was hailed by former F1 driver Christian Danner. "He braked so late that Leclerc had to play along," he said on RTL.

Team boss Frederic Vasseur insisted: "I wasn't worried. Both did a perfect job, no contact. Fair overtaking between teammates."

Sainz, though, was the driver in red who was making waves. "Sainz has put a clear exclamation mark internally and will continue to drive like this, for himself, in order to position himself in the driver market," said Timo Glock.

"We saw an aggressive and ambitious Carlos," DAZN commentator Antonio Lobato said. "He was already third yet asking all the time 'Where is Checo? How are Checo's tyres?' He wants more.

"There is a difference between last year's Carlos and this year's Carlos."

Former F1 driver Timi Glock explained: "Carlos is a guy with experience - worth his weight in gold for Audi. But he wants a team where he can fight for victories."

Regarding the Mercedes option, Gunther Steiner thinks it's obvious that Wolff is grooming the 17-year-old sensation Kimi Antonelli for the seat - although 2025 may be too early for the youngster.

"In that case, he can still choose from all the drivers without a contract," the former Haas boss said. "He is in no hurry, because none of those drivers are going to sign anything before Toto makes his choice.

"If you reduce it to just two, I'd have Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg," added Steiner. "If you want to win a championship, you need drivers who have been doing it for a long time."

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