Just days after Sebastian Vettel dropped the bombshell that he intended to leave Ferrari’s Formula 1 team at the end of 2020 comes the news that his still-warm seat will be taken up by current McLaren driver Carlos Sainz Jr.
Sainz – a supremely talented racer with 102 GPs under his belt, and who last year finished 6th in the Drivers’ Championship – will join Charles Leclerc for the 2021 F1 season, and, understandably, was more than a little chuffed. “I am very happy that I will be driving for Scuderia Ferrari in 2021 and I’m excited about my future with the team.”
He was also, understandably, keen to reiterate to his current employers that he’ll do a good job, whenever the season kicks off. “I still have an important year ahead with McLaren Racing and I’m really looking forward to going racing again with them this season.”
Sainz’s new boss, Mattia Binotto, was also quite pleased with his new employee. “With five seasons already behind him, Carlos has proved to be very talented and has shown that he has the technical ability and the right attributes to make him an ideal fit with our family.
“We’ve embarked on a new cycle with the aim of getting back to the top in Formula 1. It will be a long journey, not without its difficulties. We believe that a driver pairing with the talent and personality of Charles and Carlos, the youngest in the past 50 years of the Scuderia, will be the best possible combination to help us reach the goals we have set ourselves.”
No pressure, Jr, but next year will be a big ‘un. Sainz’s departure from Woking means there’s a fresh spot there, and in 2021 that’ll be taken up by the biggest smile in Formula 1. Yep, Daniel Ricciardo will leave Renault and join McLaren, partnering up with Lando Norris.
Conscious of the job still in hand, the Aussie star said: “I am so grateful for my time with Renault F1 and the way I was accepted into the team. But we aren’t done and I can’t wait to get back on the grid this year. My next chapter isn’t here yet, so let’s finish this one strong.”
His new boss, McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown, said: “Signing Daniel is another step forward in our long-term plan and will bring an exciting new dimension to the team, alongside Lando.
“I also want to pay tribute to Carlos for the excellent job he has been doing for McLaren in helping our performance recovery plan. We wish him well for his future beyond McLaren.”
That leaves an open slot over at Renault. Place your bets here, friends…
STORY Vijay Pattni