Van der Garde thinks Sainz can challenge Verstappen: ‘Would be very close’

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Van der Garde thinks Sainz can challenge Verstappen: 'Would be very close'

Giedo van der Garde analyzed the driver situation at Red Bull Racing in his reflection on the Japanese Grand Prix. The former Formula 1 driver praised Max Verstappen extensively, and thinks that Sergio Pérez is in pole position for a contract extension, but that Carlos Sainz would be an upgrade compared to the Mexican.

Verstappen won his third Grand Prix of the season in Japan, and has now won 37 Grands Prix since the start of 2022. ‘It’s worldly. He has now led more than 3,000 laps, and 57 victories,” Van der Garde sums up in the DRS: The Race Show podcast. ‘He is already more than half of Lewis Hamilton’s number. It’s incredible what he shows. Also that moment with his engineer, when he said that Gianpiero Lambiase was right with the front wing. They constantly challenge each other. When you are in such a flow, it is not that difficult, because you constantly remain sharp,” says the former driver.

Van der Garde also calls Pérez the ideal second man with his current level of form. “Red Bull will soon have the choice to sign Carlos Sainz or go for Pérez, who is simply a good second man,” Van der Garde explains Red Bull Racing’s luxury problem. ‘Or both, but that depends on what Max is going to do. If he has an option to go somewhere else, like Mercedes, then you have to get Sainz, being Red Bull.”

Sainz plays a key role in Silly Season

Sainz is one of the drivers who is on the list of many teams, but Van der Garde advises him to be patient. ‘Sainz will of course talk to everyone. If I were him, I’d wait. “If there is an option to get into the best car, the Red Bull… As long as Verstappen is there, Sainz will not be there, I don’t believe that,” says the analyst, who thinks that Sainz’s chances at Red Bull is therefore dependent on what Verstappen does. ‘That’s too much fuss and fuss, but if something happens to Max and he chooses another team, as Red Bull I would get Sainz. As long as Pérez continues to drive next to Max as he is doing now, he can stay for another two years,” says Van der Garde.

According to Van der Garde, Verstappen would have more to fear from Sainz than from Pérez. ‘Sainz is good. You saw how they did in 2015,” the former driver says about the debut season of both men, in which Verstappen took 49 points and Sainz eighteen points. ‘They would sit very close together. I think Sainz is better than Pérez. It would be very close and make for great fights, but it’s all speculation. We still have 2025 first. Let’s finish this season first and see what happens with the driver market. It would be nice next season if the teams get closer together, and 2026 will be very different with the new rules.’

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