Carlos Sainz Signs with McLaren for 2019
Carlos Sainz Jr just can’t seem to stay in place. He was driving for Toro Rosso in 2017, moved to Renault at the end of that season, and will now head to McLaren for 2019 following the retirement announcement of fellow countryman Fernando Alonso.
Sainz is currently 23 years old and will be already be entering his fifth season in F1 when he joins McLaren next year. He went through the Formula One ladder as part of the Red Bull junior program, winning the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC championship and Formula Renault 3.5 series along the way.
Despite never having been at the wheel of a front running car, Sainz is regarded as one of the more capable drivers in the sport. He compared well against the very highly-rated Max Verstappen and thoroughly trounced Daniil Kvyat after the latter’s demotion.
“It’s no secret that Carlos is a huge admirer of Fernando’s, and it’s fitting that he will be stepping into his seat as a Spaniard with a legendary name in motorsport,” said McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown. “We think he’ll be a great fit for McLaren and we’re really excited to have him join us from next season and beyond.”
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That being said, 2018 has not been so favorable. He currently sits 11th in the drivers’ championship with 30 points while teammate Nico Hülkenberg sits seventh with 52 points — and had Hülkenberg been a little more fortunate this year on the reliability side, the gap would be even greater.
So far it is unclear who will be driving alongside him at McLaren. Stoffel Vandoorne is currently occupying the 2018 seat, but most of the paddock seems to believe he needs to step up if he is to keep an F1 driver, as Alonso has so far had the measure of him at every Grand Prix. McLaren junior driver Lando Norris will be looking to make his way into the sport as well.
This also leaves open an important question: who will drive for Red Bull? Daniel Ricciardo is leaving to replace Sainz at Renault, and Sainz was the obvious man for the seat. Pierre Gasly, then? Or perhaps another driver hoping to be the first to see just what Red Bull and Honda can get done together in 2019.
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