Knoors thinks that Horner is putting pressure on Verstappen: ‘He is not eager to do that’

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Knoors thinks that Horner is putting pressure on Verstappen: 'He is not eager to do that'

Carlos Sainz was one of the absolute standouts in Melbourne. After the month of racing, the Madrilenian is only an appendix poorer and a victory cup richer, and thus saws off the chair legs of Sergio Pérez. The Ferrari driver made such an impression that Christian Horner confirmed that Sainz is an option for the Mexican’s seat. Analyst Ernest Knoors discusses the possibilities for the Spaniard.

After Australia, Sainz has forty points, eleven less than leader Max Verstappen. That means the Spaniard could have taken the lead in the championship if he had finished in the top four without his absence in Saudi Arabia. In that sense, it is not surprising that Horner is considering the former Toro Rosso driver. The 50-year-old team boss called Sainz a ‘fast, unemployed driver’, and indicated that Red Bull sometimes has to look outside its own teams for the best available driver duo.

Put pressure on Verstappen?

Ernest Knoors, analyst at Viaplay, suspects Horner that he has another motive for making this statement. “I find this very interesting,” Knoors opens in conversation with Motorsport.com. Knoors thinks that Horner is not trying to put pressure on Pérez, but Max Verstappen with this comment. ‘I think you should also see this a bit in relation to the power struggle of Christian Horner with Helmut Marko, and Red Bull Thailand with Red Bull Austria.

Verstappen recently expressed his clear support for team advisor Helmut Marko, and Knoors expects Horner to respond now. ‘If Christian (Horner, ed.) feels that Max Verstappen, Jos Verstappen, and Helmut Marko are putting a little pressure on him, he can think: Well, someone like Carlos Sainz. If I bring that in, then I have someone with whom I can potentially become a champion.’ That would increase the pressure on Max, because I don’t really think Max is eager to have Carlos Sainz as a teammate. I think there is a large part of politics involved and Christian is of course very smart politically,” is the opinion of the former Formula 1 engineer.

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Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz 2015
Is there a chance that these two will be reunited in 2025, after ten years?

Sainz next to Verstappen or as a replacement?

Knoors does not see Sainz coming to Red Bull if Verstappen is also there. “I don’t think it is the best choice or the most obvious choice as Max’s teammate,” shares the analyst, who sees the 29-year-old Spaniard as a replacement for the Dutchman. ‘If Max were to actually say, I’m going somewhere else, then you will have a very good driver with Sainz. You can use this to force something on Max. It is a politically charged season,” realizes the man who worked for Ferrari.

The choice is huge for Sainz

Even if Sainz cannot go to Red Bull, the Spaniard does not have to worry much. ‘I don’t think you have to worry about whether he’s going to get a seat. I think it will be more difficult to see which horse he will bet on,” said Knoors. Sainz will be on the list for Red Bull, Mercedes, Aston Martin, and Audi, among others, and with a view to 2026 that will be a gamble. ‘Will it be Aston Martin? Are you going to see that it really breaks through to the top in the future? Are you going to Mercedes? Is that a team that can find its way back to the top? Or are you going to a project like Audi? I honestly think that given his track record and what he’s doing now, he’s going to have plenty of options.”

‘I know the Audi project a little bit. They are very ambitious, but it is a project that really takes time,” Knoors continues. Audi itself previously indicated that they will only actually be there in 2027. ‘Ultimately, if you look at Aston Martin, I think there is a lot of potential there. There is a drive behind it to become world champion. Sainz is someone who wants to become world champion, he is not a second driver. He just wants that chance to become a champion. Then it’s a bit between Mercedes and Aston Martin,” Knoors concludes.

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