Fred Vasseur has promised that the renewal of the drivers will happen before the first GP of 2024: there are still five weeks left to conclude the negotiation with Carlos Sainz, while the long-term renewal of Charles Leclerc has been confirmed. The Spaniard aims for a two-year extension, but evidently, the parties are still far from reaching an agreement. Meanwhile, the figure of Alex Albon hovers as the only possible market alternative to the Spaniard, but everyone hopes for a good compromise to be reached soon.
“I don’t like starting a season without knowing what awaits me in the long run. I have already had experiences in this regard with Red Bull and Renault; it’s not ideal for a professional driver not to know their future. This will be my priority during the winter break, and if it’s not possible, I’ll have to look around.” This was last July when Carlos Sainz expressed his plans for the tenth season in Formula 1 in an interview with Motorsport.com.
There are less than five weeks to the weekend that will kick off the 2024 championship, so there is a chance that the deadline hoped for by Carlos Sainz will be respected, but at best, it will be a last-minute deal, as confirmed by Italian journalist Roberto Chinchero.
As expected, the official announcement of Charles Leclerc’s renewal has made the missing part evident, namely the extension of Carlos. While it’s rare for team announcements to be simultaneous, and negotiations always proceed on separate tracks, the most obvious aspect remains the approaching deadline set by Carlos. That’s the point.
Technically, Carlos Sainz’s renewal seems one of the most obvious. His performance over the three seasons at Maranello has been excellent, and the pairing with Leclerc has created one of the most complete tandems in the paddock. Charles possesses great talent that allows him to excel in qualifying and wheel-to-wheel battles, while Carlos is a professional with significant know-how and technical sensitivity, qualities highly valuable to the engineers. However, we’re talking about minimal differences; in both cases, there are no shortcomings, just more pronounced strengths.
Yet, negotiations between Ferrari and Carlos Sainz’s representatives have taken longer than expected. Complete silence prevails on both fronts (common in these cases), leaving external observers only room to speculate on scenarios. On April 21, 2022, Carlos’s renewal for the 2023 and 2024 seasons was announced, coming at a peculiar moment for the Scuderia, with Charles Leclerc having just secured two victories and a second place in the first three races of the season. At that time, Carlos Sainz had two podium finishes, namely second place in Bahrain and third in Jeddah.
Two years later, it is highly likely that Carlos has put forward some additional demands, not only on the financial front but also in terms of assurances, starting with the contract duration. The scenario is different from 2022, and this has influenced the initial stages of the negotiation from the ‘driver’ side.
It’s not coincidental that Ferrari has avoided disclosing the duration of the agreement with Leclerc, sensitive information to understand the Scuderia’s long-term strategy. If, as speculated, the agreement is for three seasons (with an option for the following two), it confirms once again that Maranello sees Charles Leclerc as a fundamental asset for the future.
In this scenario, it’s not easy for Carlos Sainz to fit into his role. We’re not talking about a first and second driver situation (always a hot topic, especially in Italy), but about priorities. For Mercedes, Hamilton has always been a priority over Rosberg (commercial aspects, popularity, track record, partner appreciation), but this aspect did not result in on-track treatment differences, just as Nico’s championship win demonstrated.
Today, winning is tremendously important for those at the helm of a team, as confirmed by the recent Singapore Grand Prix where the entire Ferrari rallied around Sainz. Team principals have become like football coaches; if results don’t align with expectations, they become the most at-risk figures.
Ferrari knows that Carlos Sainz represents the best possible choice for the 2025/26 biennium, and Carlos knows equally well that staying in Maranello for another two years is the best option for his career. It’s about finding compromises, probably a bit more recognition from the Scuderia’s side, and accepting a less extended renewal than his teammate by Carlos.
After all, the alternatives are not definite steps forward, and this applies to both sides. For Ferrari in 2025, the only real opportunity is Alexander Albon, and for Sainz, a move to Audi or Aston Martin, both choices that, at least on paper, do not seem to guarantee a significant improvement.