Ferrari are shortly expected to conclude a deal to sign Carlos Sainz from McLaren to replace Sebastian Vettel for the 2021 Formula One season. As a result Daniel Ricciardo is believed to be moving from Renault to replace Sainz.
Both moves are expected to be announced before the end of the week. Ferrari taking on Sainz to partner Charles Leclerc ends conjecture that Lewis Hamilton would join the Scuderia.
Ferrari announced on Tuesday they would not be renewing Vettel’s contract after this season and the team wants to quickly conclude a deal for his replacement. Sainz is believed to represent the ideal partner for Leclerc. He is only 25 years old but has completed five seasons in F1 including a career best at McLaren last year, featuring a podium in Brazil.
The move will be a major step up for Sainz, who is the son of multiple world rally champion Carlos Sainz Sr. He began his career with Toro Rosso before switching to Renault in 2017 and then McLaren last year. He has been hugely impressive but he will certainly begin as No 2 to Leclerc at Ferrari.
For the Scuderia he is a driver with reasonable experience but without the expense or potential conflict of a proven race winner assuming a No 2 role. Ferrari will have noted the productive, friendly relationship Sainz forged with Lando Norris at McLaren, where he has enjoyed the atmosphere.
The deal is yet to be concluded but Sainz Sr has acknowledged that resolution was expected imminently. “It is true that things have moved a lot lately,” he said. “I want to think that sooner or later there will be a solution because we cannot wait another two months or more going with these rumours and these stories. I cannot tell you anything more because it is a delicate situation.”
Ricciardo was in negotiations with McLaren before he opted to join Renault from Red Bull in 2019 but the Australian has been disappointed with the French team's failure to make inroads. McLaren in contrast enjoyed their best season since 2012 and will have Mercedes engines in 2021. The chief executive, Zak Brown, is known to rate Ricciardo, who is one of the top drivers in the sport and one of the most accomplished at overtaking.
The moves will leave a seat open at Renault, with Fernando Alonso, who scored both his world championships with the team, being linked to a possible return to F1 or Vettel potentially joining Esteban Ocon at the French team.