Mercedes may sign Sainz but axe him after 12 months in Toto Wolff masterplan

Mercedes may sign Sainz but axe him after 12 months in Toto Wolff masterplan

Mercedes are reportedly in talks with Carlos Sainz over a one-plus-one-year contract in a deal that could allow Toto Wolff to part ways with the Spanish racer after just 12 months with the team.

This move would keep the Silver Arrows competitive in 2025 with Sainz joining forces with George Russell while allowing 17-year-old starlet Kimi Antonelli to hone his skills in preparation for his ascent into the Mercedes seat.

According to a report from RacingNews365, talks are already underway between Sainz and Mercedes representatives with the Silver Arrows courting a one-year deal with the option of extending the Spaniard’s contract for a second year into 2026. No agreement is expected on the proposal before the conclusion of this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.

Mercedes are one of a handful of options at Sainz’s disposal for the 2025 campaign. The 29-year-old is being replaced at Ferrari by Lewis Hamilton after the season finale in Abu Dhabi, but has come out of the blocks swinging in 2024, marking his three Grand Prix starts with two P3 finishes and a victory in Melbourne.

These results have caught the eye of Red Bull and Sauber, as well as Mercedes. Sainz was also linked with a switch to Aston Martin, but the news of Fernando Alonso’s multi-year extension has put pay to that opportunity.

While on the surface, Mercedes’ proposed deal keeps them in control and gives little security to Sainz, it could actually work out well for both parties. With Red Bull unwilling to make a decision on their line-up this early in the year, turning down this offer could leave the three-time Grand Prix winner in a difficult predicament.

Instead, by joining Mercedes, Sainz will keep his name firmly at the forefront of the field, while keeping him in the running for a longer-term deal at Brackley. At the same time, he’ll be skipping out on the lengthy development work that will be required to make Sauber competitive in time for Audi’s arrival in 2026.

By committing to Wolff’s terms, Sainz would be helping out both himself and Mercedes, giving Audi time to get their organisation and power unit into a competitive state, while allowing Antonelli to develop outside of the pressure-cooker environment that the team represents.

The only question left to answer would be where Antonelli continues his development. The Italian prodigy may opt for a sophomore year in Formula Two following a mixed start to his debut year, but Williams has also been touted as a potential destination given Wolff’s long-standing connections to team principal James Vowles.