Within 48 hours of Ferrari announcing the departure of Sebastian Vettel post-2020, the Maranello outfit has confirmed the German’s replacement for 2021 – Carlos Sainz Jr. The Spaniard was already a front runner for the seat after his strong performance for McLaren in 2019.
Sainz has been on the F1 grid since 2015 and started with Toro Rosso alongside Max Verstappen. He did a short stint at Renault starting in late 2017 and moved to McLaren in 2019 where he replaced Fernando Alonso. It seems Carlos has made a habit of replacing former world champions. He’s still young and should be able to work together with Charles Leclerc to help Ferrari improve its results. Some may see Sainz as a sidekick to the Monegasque star but that is not the case. Carlos has proven himself in his short time on the grid and showcased his work ethic to get the results he demands from himself. If anything, Leclerc and Sainz will push each other to improve and grow together in getting Ferrari to the top spot once again. This move confirms Ferrari’s driver lineup for the next couple of years.
This move opened a seat at McLaren which was immediately seized by Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo. While he did need the Ferrari seat more having proved himself as a race-winning driver with Red Bull, the Aussie has placed his bets on another mid-field team for 2021. You might be thinking, “What’s the difference? It’s still a Renault engine.” Let me remind you that McLaren will be using Mercedes F1 engines from 2021 onwards which immediately makes them look like a better choice than Renault. On top of that, the Renault driver lineup has been noticeably tumultuous since they rejoined as a factory team in 2016. The most visible face of the team admin is Cyril Abiteboul and I’ve never had a good vibe about him. His official statement regarding Daniel’s departure further highlights the toxic environment of the Renault team and its another good reason for the Aussie racer to get out of there. Cyril’s comment was as follows:
“In our sport, and particularly within the current extraordinary situation, reciprocated confidence, unity and commitment are, more than ever, critical values for a works team. I am confident that the 2020 season will allow us to accomplish even more together. Our ambitions and the strategy of Renault DP World F1 Team remain unchanged.”
I feel Daniel is a good fit in the Woking-based F1 team and his playful demeanour is better suited to a customer team rather than a works team. McLaren has had their share of troubles getting up to speed since they returned to F1 but after they finished 4th in the 2019 constructor’s championship (ahead of Renault), the team seems to be on the right track. Daniel will be joining the second most entertaining driver on the grid at McLaren – Lando Norris. I think this would be an interesting duo that can really challenge the rest of the grid and fight for podiums too. Lando would learn a lot from Daniel and the Aussie-Brit combo should make for more entertainment for the fans. With this quick game of musical chairs, McLaren’s lineup for 2021 has also been finalised.
Let’s not forget, most F1 seats for 2021 are still unconfirmed, including top dogs Mercedes. The shortlist of confirmed seats includes Verstappen at Red Bull, Esteban Ocon at Renault and Sergio Perez at Racing Point. Could we see Lewis and Vettel together at Mercedes? In which case, Bottas may have to take the seat at Renault? It’s all up for grabs and there hasn’t even been a single race in 2020 yet. If anything, this should make for fiercer racing action as driver’s strive to get the best deals for the following season.
What are your thoughts on Sainz’s move to Ferrari and Daniel’s to McLaren? Do you agree this was the best move for both drivers in these circumstances? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe to The Auto Loons for more updates.