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Vowles doubles down on Sainz comments as he makes clear Spaniard is ‘number one target’ for Williams

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Williams team boss James Vowles has stated in no uncertain terms that Carlos Sainz is now at the top of his wish list to partner Alex Albon next season, sending more words of praise the Spaniard’s way.

Sainz, 29, is on the lookout for a new team after Ferrari announced ahead of the 2024 campaign that he is to be replaced by seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton in 2025 – ending a four-year stay with the Maranello outfit.

READ MORE: Vowles says two drivers in contention for final Williams seat in 2025 as he praises ‘incredible’ Sainz

With more teams confirming their 2025 line-ups in recent weeks, Williams and Kick Sauber – the latter soon to be taken over by German automotive giants Audi – are two squads Sainz is being heavily linked to.

Indeed, ahead of this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix, Vowles described the three-time Grand Prix winner as an “incredible driver” and explained that it is “his choice as to where he wants to go to” for the future.

As the event developed, Vowles went even further as he predicted in an interview with Sky Sports F1 that the remainder of the driver market should “clear itself up in the next four weeks”.

MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JUNE 06: Carlos Sainz of Spain and Ferrari walks in the Paddock during previews

Sainz is weighing up his options as he prepares to bid farewell to Ferrari

Asked about his admiration for Sainz, and what he would bring to the team, Vowles said: “He’s a race-winning driver that last year against all odds beat Max [Verstappen] in Singapore with a brilliant drive, and that’s not the first time. He’s intelligent how he approaches things, logical, incredibly quick.

“What he did this year in Shanghai… It’s going to sound like a negative, it’s not… In qualifying he crashed and we’ve all been there to a certain extent, [but] it’s an impressive athlete that can reset themselves, go back out and then beat your team mate in that condition.

READ MORE: Sainz offers update on F1 future as he says latest driver market developments ‘no surprise for me’

“I think that shows you just how strong he is as a driver, and I think any team on the grid would be fortunate to have someone like Carlos alongside them.”

Pushed about his public courting of Sainz at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, and whether he now sits at the top of Williams’ list, Vowles stressed: “That bit I can say. The number one target is Carlos.”

Just over a year on from vacating his key strategic role at Mercedes to take over the reins at Williams, Vowles also opened up on the kind of project the Grove operation are selling to Sainz.

‘He's an incredible driver’ – Vowles says Sainz is top of Williams shortlist for 2025

“There’s a reason why I left Mercedes to come here,” he commented. “This isn’t the Williams of old, and I think first and foremost the fact that we are having Sainz on our list will certainly show you that this isn’t how we’ve performed of late.

“We are prepared to have a driver line-up that I think is going to be one of the best on the grid, if it’s achieved, and that’s a different era that we’re going into. We’re investing tens if not hundreds of millions to [take] this team back to where it was in terms of success.

READ MORE: Famin explains Ocon’s exit from Alpine and responds to Canadian GP ‘punishment’ rumours

“There is in the background a number of really great signings that will slowly start edging out into the world. But this really is a good journey where we’re now starting to see the hard work that started 12 months ago come into play, and that gives me every reason to be confident that we’re moving forward.

“We were a team that were 10th [in the standings] for many years… Yes, last year we were seventh and we started this year poorly, [but] keep an eye out for us. We’re now starting to put performance to the car race by race, and this is a different entity to what it was before.”

Sainz’s next team will be the fifth he has represented in F1, having debuted with Toro Rosso back in 2015 before stints at Renault, McLaren and, most recently, Ferrari.

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