F1: Ferrari Sign Sainz & McLaren Confirm Ricciardo For 2021 Season

Mercedes W08 (L) and Ferrari SF70-H (R) have been relatively marched in 2017 Mercedes-Benz F1 W08 Hybrid and Ferrari SF70-H at Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix Preparations, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Thursday 13 April 2017.

Carlos Sainz will replace Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari in the 2021 season with Daniel Ricciardo taking Sainz’s place at McLaren.

The double switch was announced by both teams on Thursday morning.

Sainz who has signed a two-year deal will partner Charles Leclerc who impressed in his debut season for Ferrari last season.

Ricciardo finally joins McLaren after turning down the chance to join the British team last year to move to Renault. He will partner Lando Norris next season.

McLaren Racing chief executive officer Zak Brown said Ricciardo brings “an exciting new dimension to the team”; Ferrari said Sainz was “the ideal fit”.

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto added that Sainz “had proved to be very talented and has shown that he has the technical ability and the right attributes”.

Vettel’s departure from Ferrari at the end of this season was confirmed on Tuesday after the German four-time world champion declined to accept diminished contract terms.

His departure triggered the domino effect in the drivers market.

Ferrari believe Sainz will provide the ideal support for Leclerc whose impressive performances in his debut season with the Italian team last year signalled the beginning of the end for Vettel.

Leclerc signed a five-year deal until 2024 over the winter.

Binotto added: “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, especially given the current financial and regulatory situation, which is undergoing a sudden change and will require this challenge to be tackled in a different way to the recent past.

“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.”

Carlos Sainz

Sainz, who previously drove for Toro Rosso and Renault before moving to McLaren last year said he was “excited about my future” with Ferrari but “looking forward to the season ahead with McLaren”.

Sainz excelled in his first season with McLaren last year and his strong race performances have earned him the call-up from Ferrari.

Ricciardo nearly joined McLaren in 2019 when he left Red Bull, but in the end chose Renault because they were more competitive at the time.

Daniel Ricciardo

But with McLaren outperforming Renault last season the 30-year-old Australian has now decided that McLaren are a better bet for the future – a decision partly influenced by their switch to Mercedes engines for the 2021 season.

“Signing Daniel is another step forward in our long-term plan and will bring an exciting new dimension,” said Brown.

“I also want to pay tribute to Carlos for the excellent job he has been doing for McLaren in helping our performance recovery plan. He is a real team player and we wish him well for his future beyond McLaren.”

Signing Ricciardo, a seven-time winner with Red Bull between 2014 and 2018, is a major coup for McLaren, who last year made impressive progress back to fourth in the championship after a dismal few years falling down the grid.

Team principal Andreas Seidl said: “Daniel is a proven race-winner and his experience, commitment and energy will be a valuable addition to McLaren and our mission to return to the front of the field. With Daniel and Lando as team-mates, I believe we have two racers who will continue to excite our fans and help the team grow.”

Ricciardo’s departure leaves an opening at Renault alongside Frenchman Esteban Ocon, assuming the car manufacturer stays in F1 next year.

The French team are said to be keen to promote one of their young drivers to the role if they are deemed ready but both Vettel and double world champion Fernando Alonso are contenders.

Renault is considering Alonso as an option but is understood not to be close to a decision on Ocon’s partner in 2021.

Alonso said at the end of last year that he would consider a comeback to F1 after two years out, but he will have to weigh up whether he believes Renault will give him the competitive car he says he wants.

But he has fond memories of the team, having won both his world titles with them in 2005-6.

He also returned there for a two-year period in 2008-9 after his move to McLaren turned sour in a tumultuous year alongside Lewis Hamilton in 2007 and before moving to Ferrari.