Sainz Jr. makes the move following his strongest year in F1 to date, having finished in sixth place in the drivers’ championship (just one place behind Sebastian Vettel, it’s worth noting) and having scored his first podium (in unusual circumstances in Brazil). Of course, he’ll still race for McLaren in 2020 alongside his partner-in-crime Norris, but how many races we’ll actually get in 2020 remains to be seen.
Ferrari’s Principal Mattia Binotto said: “We’ve embarked on a new cycle with the aim of getting back to the top in Formula 1. We believe that a driver pairing with the talent and personality of Charles and Carlos, the youngest in the past fifty years of the Scuderia, will be the best possible combination to help us reach the goals we have set ourselves.”
The Spaniard’s move to Ferrari leaves a vacant seat at McLaren, and it’s the smiley Australian Daniel Ricciardo who has moved in. Ricciardo has always made it clear that his goal is to become world champion, and having watched McLaren’s progress over the last year whilst driving for the Renault team that appears to be struggling to make the gains in performance it wants and needs seems to have been enough to encourage him to jump ship.
Renault’s statement on the matter is as brief as it is blunt: “Within the unprecedented context of the 2020 season, discussions held with Daniel Ricciardo concerning a renewal of his contract beyond the end of 2020 have not been successful.”
Team boss Cyril Abiteboul’s statement is fairly short and cryptic, too: “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.”
Ricciardo’s departure leaves a hole to fill at Renault, then. Esteban Ocon is making his return to racing with the French team in 2020, having sat patiently on the sidelines since he was left without a drive at the end of 2018, but who will be his team-mate? Will it be Sebastian Vettel? Could it even be Nico Hulkenberg? Or, as hilarious as it sounds, maybe even Fernando Alonso?