Villeneuve doubts Sainz will play the team game at Ferrari

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F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve has thrown a wrench into Carlos Sainz’s saga with Ferrari, suggesting the Spaniard won't play nice after the Scuderia opted to replace him with Lewis Hamilton for the 2025 season.

Sainz, who had seemingly found a good home at Maranello after replacing Sebastian Vettel in 2021, often expressed his desire to stay for the long haul.

However, Thursday's stunning announcement regarding Hamilton's multi-year deal with Ferrari from 2025 has shattered those dreams and reduced Sainz to mere collateral damage.

The latest development, coupled with Charles Leclerc’s recent contract extension, leaves the two-time Grand Prix winner searching for a new cockpit despite securing the only non-Red Bull victory of the 2023 season.

“He is the big loser in this situation because his bargaining power, with Audi or anyone else, is obviously much less,” reckoned Villeneuve, speaking to Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Sainz will have no interest in playing the team’s games. Ferrari’s results for him now count for zero, the only thing that will count will be his results.

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“He has to [produce] them for his 2025 contract. Possibly trying to beat Leclerc.

“We’ll see how Mercedes will handle the confrontation between Russell and Hamilton. And how it will work between Leclerc and Sainz, who now has nothing left to lose.”

Echoing Martin Brundle's sentiments, Villeneuve believes that uniting F1's most decorated team with the sport's most successful driver will create a potent force that will benefit F1 as a whole.

“It is good news for all of us,” the 52-year-old Canadian added.

“It is unexpected, indeed, and exciting. It gets people talking. You can’t imagine anything more: the greatest team of all time with the most successful driver.

“For Ferrari it is an incredible image operation, in a positive sense. And on Hamilton’s part, it’s a great move.”

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