Motor Sports

Marko says Red Bull talking to Sainz but can't match Audi offer

SHANGHAI: Red Bull are talking to Ferrari's Carlos Sainz about a drive for 2025 but Audi have offered him far more, the energy drink brand's motorsport consultant Helmut Marko said on Thursday.

Sainz, 29, must leave Ferrari at the end of the season to make way for Mercedes' seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton.

The Spaniard, race winner in Australia last month, told reporters at the Chinese Grand Prix on Thursday that all his best options remained open and it would take some time to reach a decision.

Sainz has been linked to Red Bull as possible team mate for triple world champion Max Verstappen, recreating their 2015-16 Toro Rosso lineup, if Mexican Sergio Perez does not have his contract renewed.

Marko told Austria's Kleine Zeitung newspaper that Sainz was of interest.

"We're talking to him, he's having his strongest season in Formula One," said the Austrian. "But he has a very lucrative offer from Audi that we can't match or beat."

Audi are entering Formula One in 2026 when Swiss-based Sauber, so far without a point in four races this season, become the German manufacturer's factory team.

Marko said the experienced Perez was also having his best season since joining them in 2021.

"If he maintains these performances like those in qualifying in Japan, then he is certainly the best option for 2025 at Red Bull," he added.

"He is a worker for the team and has now also realised that the radically different path he took last year with set-up was the wrong one. Now the car is closer to Max's set-up and that helps him."

Australian Daniel Ricciardo has also been in the frame for a possible return to the main Red Bull team but has yet to assert himself at the renamed RB, the outfit previously known as AlphaTauri and Toro Rosso.

Marko said that so far Yuki Tsunoda had Ricciardo "under control."

"The challenge for him (Ricciardo) was that he clearly had to be faster than Yuki if he wanted to have any hope of winning the seat at Red Bull. That hasn't been the case so far, even if, as I said, it was close. We'll see how this develops," he said. Reuters

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