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Are Carlos Sainz and Mattia Binotto Joining Forces to Compete Against Ferrari in 2026?

Published 11/08/2023, 4:58 AM EST

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No conversation about Formula 1’s heritage and legacy is complete without the mention of Ferrari. The Maranello outfit and the pinnacle of motorsport are synonymous to most F1 fans, including Sebastian Vettel. But that ideology has been put into question for over 15 years! That’s how long the Tifosi have gone without a World Champion wearing Scarlet colors on the top step.

While there have been numerous drivers after Kimi Raikkonen who arrived at Maranello with the dream of restoring Enzo Ferrari’s true ambition, none of them have been successful. With Sebastian Vettel retiring, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were the ones carrying the baton forward. But it might become a lonely sprint for Leclerc after rumors have flooded the paddock of Sainz’s exit for a fresh start with Audi in 2026.

Will Sainz follow in the footsteps of his father?

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When Carlos Sainz made a move to McLaren from Renault, he was touted by many to have chosen Sauber (Alfa Romeo) instead. While the Spaniard ended up at the bigger, and frankly better team, there are signs that the Spaniard will join his former team boss, Andreas Seidl, in leading Audi’s entry into the sport.


Although Sainz had denied earlier rumors related to Audi on the pretext that they were invented by the media, the pre-existing relationship between Audi and Carlos Sainz is personal, with his father racing for Audi in the Dakar rally. This is why when Sainz Sr shared a reel with Audi promoting their run in the Dakar rally, the F1 community couldn’t help but connect the dots to favor the No.55 driver’s future with Audi. Adding spice to the mix, the entire Sainz family commented in a show of support for the senior man, with Carlos Sainz commenting, “Let’s go!! With everything one more year 💪💪”.

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The legendary Spanish rally driver, Carlos Sainz Sr, had won 2 world rally championships with Toyota, driving the iconic Celica, in the 90’s. Although he’s still a formidable force, Carlos Sainz Sr was well past his prime when he partnered with Audi. However, his son might just be the right choice for the German manufacturer, as it would be great not only for marketing purposes but because Carlos Sainz has proven he can match if not outclass competent rivals like Charles Leclerc throughout an entire season.

Although Carlos Sainz struggled with the SF23 in Brazil, his heroics in Singapore and Monza saw him stand a notch above his teammate, Leclerc. The same was true for Sainz’s first year with the Scuderia, which saw the Spaniard beat Ferrari’s poster boy in the standings. While the story was different in 2022, Sainz is back on track to beat Monegasque this year, owing to Leclerc’s never-ending misfortune.

But this is exactly what has pointed to a bigger flaw with the Maranello outfit, as Sainz has repeatedly been unhappy with his set-up. This is why it’s getting more and more evident that the relationship between the Spaniard and Ferrari is being pushed to its limits. Adding to the Tifosi’s misery, Ferrari’s former boss, Mattia Binotto might just be the last nail in the coffin for Sainz’s time in Maranello.

Could Audi reunite Carlos Sainz and Mattia Binotto?

With Carlos Sainz expected to make a move eventually from Ferrari since his contract expires in 2024 and there is no confirmation of a renewal yet, the engine troubles faced by Audi are not promising prospects. The 2026 engine regulations are a complicated step in the right direction for F1. They aim to introduce an engine built from the ground up with a focus on fuel efficiency and a push for oil companies to figure out alternate sustainable fuels.

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For a new F1 team, creating a new engine that can compete at the level Audi expects would be a big task itself. However, the German manufacturer now finds themselves in a complicated situation as their entrance to the sport coincides with the next major engine change.

While they may have already found a brilliant racer in the form of Carlos Sainz, they are left stranded without a man to power their F1 dreams. According to Formu1a.uno and other sources, Mattia Binotto is an ideal candidate to lead the team’s engine development program. After all, the Italian joined Ferrari as a race engineer and rose amongst the ranks to become the leader, cementing his capabilities to manage a front-running team.

Although the Tifosi and Ferrari management narrowed down the blame of past years’ miseries on Binotto, things have not looked good for the Maranello outfit since his exit either. This means he wasn’t the only issue or there are major concerns for the Italian outfit.

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WATCH THIS STORY | What has become an Incessant Problem for Charles Leclerc & Carlos Sainz in Ferrari’s F1 Challenger?

With Leclerc and Sainz suffering due to Ferrari’s inconsistent reliability and strategic blunders, the Spaniard will have to consider if his odds are better with the team his father proudly races for.

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Written by:

Kabir Bajaj Ahmed

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Kabir Bajaj Ahmed is an F1 writer at EssentiallySports. As a child, it was the Top Gear Ayrton Senna tribute that drew him into the world of motorsports. While obtaining his Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication, his passion for motorsport grew.
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Edited by:

Aishwary Gaonkar