Sainz in no rush to decide next move after Ferrari sign Hamilton

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Carlos Sainz will take his time to decide where he spends "the most important three or four years" of his Formula One career, having found out Ferrari will replace him with Lewis Hamilton in 2025.

Ferrari announced the blockbuster Hamilton signing at the start of February, shortly after signing Sainz's teammate Charles Leclerc to a new contract.

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Sainz had gone into the off-season hoping to secure a similar deal, but now has to look elsewhere.

The Spaniard is a candidate to replace Hamilton at Mercedes, although he is seen as a front-runner to join the Sauber team in 2025, which would see him at the team when it starts its eagerly anticipated partnership with Audi the following season.

"As much as I said I wanted to get my future sorted before the first race, now the scenario has changed quite a bit, as you can imagine," Sainz said on Tuesday, after the launch of Ferrari's 2024 F1 car.

"It is going to be probably a longer process ahead of me. Probably my most important three or four years of my career, where I want to make sure I'm in the right place at the right time.

"I want to make sure I pick the right next destination for me so I want to take my time to think about it, to listen to all the options, have a look at all the options.

"Then I can just feel calm that when I take the decision I have given myself enough time with enough information."

Ferrari's pursuit of Hamilton made headlines in 2023, notably ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix in May, when it was rebuffed by all sides.

It has since emerged Ferrari continued talks with Hamilton about a future contract after he had signed an extension with Mercedes.

Sainz hinted that he had been aware of what had been going on well in advance.

"I think there was, obviously, a bit of a surprise like everyone in the F1 world with the news," Sainz said.

"I think everyone was surprised in a way with what happened. From my side, you can obviously understand that I got to know the news a bit earlier than anyone else.

"But it's true that then I had some weeks to reflect, some weeks to prepare and some weeks to also get ready for the car launch, for 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 there is ahead. But the fact that it was a bit of a surprise to the whole F1 world is no news, and it was obviously also for me."

Sainz's teammate Charles Leclerc said he had been kept informed about what happened.

"Obviously these kinds of deals are not finalised overnight, it takes time, and I was aware of those discussions before signing my deal, so it didn't come out as a surprise after signing," Leclerc said.

"I don't want to comment that much, mostly out of respect for Carlos, we've had great years together and we have one more year together to do. We will do absolutely everything to finish on the highest note possible."