The door to one of Carlos Sainz’s key options for next season has reportedly “slammed shut”.

The possibility of a move to Red Bull is off the table, F1-Insider reports, because they intend to stick with Sergio Perez and reward him with a new contract.

Ferrari driver Sainz is therefore playing a “dangerous poker game” with two remaining options.

Sauber – who will evolve into Audi in 2026 – have publicly named him as their No1 driver target for next season.

Mercedes also have a vacancy to fill, because Lewis Hamilton will replace Sainz at Ferrari.

‘Mercedes offer Carlos Sainz a contract’

Toto Wolff’s team have made an offer to Sainz for 2025, the same report states.

But, the catch is that the contract is only for one year.

Mercedes want to remain flexible in case they can attract Max Verstappen in 2026, or they want to promote Andrea Kimi Antonelli.

So, should Sainz accept, he knows that he will be in the same situation again next year.

Alternatively, Sainz could accept the advances from Sauber.

They are offering a multi-year deal which would take Sainz into the Audi era, and the new F1 regulations, with Nico Hulkenberg as a new-look duo.

But Audi are demanding an answer from Sainz by the F1 Monaco Grand Prix, giving him a two-week deadline.

Audi have Alpine duo Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly as back-up options if they can’t convince Sainz.

The possibility of Aston Martin has already evaporated for Sainz, when Fernando Alonso penned a new contract.