Carlos Sainz had time to 'digest' Lewis Hamilton news


Carlos Sainz acknowledged he was surprised to learn that Lewis Hamilton will be taking his seat in 2025, but the Spaniard said he was aware of the move ahead of Ferrari's announcement on Feb 1.

"Everyone was surprised in a way with what happened and from my side, I got to know the news a bit earlier than everyone else," Sainz told reporters at Ferrari's launch of its SF-24 car on Tuesday. "It's true that I have had some weeks to reflect, to prepare and also get ready for the car launch and the first race of the season.

"So it gives you a bit of time to digest it, to take your own conclusions and to focus on the 2024 season and the race ahead. But the fact it was a surprise to the whole F1 world is no news and it was obviously also for me."

Hamilton, a seven-time world champion, will join Charles Leclerc for Ferrari's driver lineup next year. Leclerc, who signed a five-year extension last month, said the two have exchanged text messages.

"We've had discussions with Lewis, especially when everything was announced and official," Leclerc said. "He is a great champion with so much success.

"It is always interesting to have a new teammate as you learn different ways of working and driving -- even more so when my new teammate is a seven-time world champion."

Meanwhile, Sainz said he is focused on the upcoming season and will take his time to consider with which team he wants to race in 2025. With nearly half of the Formula 1 grid on expiring contracts this year, the veteran should have several options.

"There's plenty of options out there and there is time to take an important decision in the next few months," he said.

The marquee opening will be the seat that the 39-year-old Hamilton is vacating at Mercedes, where he won six of his titles. Daniel Ricciardo has been one of the names linked to the seat, but insisted he is "not looking too far ahead."

Ricciardo, 34, returned to Red Bull with the junior team last year following stints with Renault and McLaren. The Australian also has been mentioned for a possible return to the main team after Sergio Perez struggled in Max Verstappen's shadow last year.

"At this part of my career, looking ahead feels a bit like a year closer to the end," said Ricciardo, who is racing for the Visa Cash App RB team alongside Yuki Tsunoda. "So it's more reason for me to be there now and really take it race by race.

"I guess in (Mercedes') position, they are in no rush. So they will judge everyone, how they are doing, the driver market, whatever. So I think this is a good position for them.

"Part of me is also happy not to be involved in all this crazy stuff, especially this early in the season. So if the silly season happens without me, that's fine with me at this point."

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