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Australian Grand Prix: Horner names Sainz as candidate for Red Bull drive in 2025

Australian Grand Prix: Horner names Sainz as candidate for Red Bull drive in 2025

MELBOURNE, Australia — Christian Horner has dropped the biggest hint yet that Australian Grand Prix race winner Carlos Sainz is in the frame for a Red Bull drive next year.

With Lewis Hamilton set to leave Mercedes to join Ferrari in 2025, Sainz is out of a drive at the end of this season and represents one of the key players in the driver market.

He has already been linked to Mercedes, Aston Martin and Sauber (which will become an Audi works team in 2026), but Red Bull is also a viable destination, with Sergio Perez out of contract at the end of this year and Max Verstappen’s future looking less certain after unrest among the team’s top management at the start of 2024.

Red Bull has multiple options for 2025 if it needs to replace one of its drivers, including Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda who are currently driving for its junior team, RB.

However, Ricciardo’s slow start to the year and a seeming reluctance to promote Honda-backed Tsunoda within Red Bull means Sainz, who won the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday just two weeks after an appendectomy, is also in contention.

“Yuki’s a very quick driver, we know that, but I think we want to feel the best pairing that we can in Red Bull Racing and sometimes you’ve got to look outside the pool as well,” Red Bull team principal Horner said.

“You’ve had a very fast unemployed driver win today. The market is reasonably fluid with certain drivers.”

Horner joked that Sainz appears to be the only driver who can beat Red Bull at the moment after he put an end to Verstappen’s 10-race winning streak in Singapore last year and did the same to a nine-race streak on Sunday in Melbourne.

“I mean Carlos is the only driver that’s beaten Red Bull, so he appears to be our nemesis,” Horner said.

Sainz made his F1 debut in 2015 with Red Bull’s junior team, which was then known as Toro Rosso, but left for Renault in 2017 after Red Bull promoted Verstappen to its senior team ahead of him in 2016.

Pushed on whether Sainz could make a return to the Red Bull fold, Horner added: “Look, I mean based on a performance like that you couldn’t rule any possibility out.

“I think you just want to take the time and obviously Checo [Perez] was compromised today. He’s had a great start in the season…

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