McLaren have announced that they have signed Carlos Sainz Jr to replace fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso when the double world champion leaves the sport at the end of this year.
After Alonso announced on Tuesday that he will not be racing is 2019, McLaren have moved very quickly and have signed Sainz on a “multi-year” deal.
Sainz, who made his debut in 2015 with Toro Rosso, was on loan at Renault after Red Bull this season. Up against Nico Hulkenberg, Sainz seemed to have not done enough in the first half of the season for the French team to sign him for 2019 instead signing Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull.
Sainz was on loan at Renault from Red Bull as the drinks team effectively “owned” his contract. Red Bull had up until September to renew his contract by either getting Sainz to race with Red Bull or Toro Rosso for 2019. This deal with McLaren shows that Red Bull have opted to let Sainz go having not wanting to take the chance to promote him to Red Bull or bring him back to Toro Rosso.
This then opens the door for Pierre Gasly who is having a good season at Toro Rosso. Rumours suggest that this move should happen soon with the young Frenchman being promoted to the more senior team.
Who does Sainz partner?
McLaren have yet to reveal who will partner Sainz for 2019. Current driver Stoffel Vandoorne has had a poor season and has struggled with the handling of the McLaren throughout the year. McLaren are concerned about the gap between Vandoorne and Alonso as the Belgian has yet to out-qualify the Spaniard so far this year.
McLaren’s reserve driver, Lando Norris, is currently enjoying a successful campaign in F2 and sits in 2nd place just a few points behind Mercedes reserve driver, George Russell.
Another outside bet is Force India’s Esteban Ocon. Ocon, who made his debut in 2016, is part of Mercedes’s young driver program and currently drives fro Force India. The rumour is that he will lose his seat at Force India to Williams’s Lance Stroll.
Confirmed 2019 Driver Line-ups
- Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton & Valterri Bottas
- Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel
- Red Bull: Max Verstappen
- Renault: Daniel Ricciardo & Nico Hulkenberg
- McLaren: Carlos Sainz Jr