Sainz to race at the Scuderia in 2021

Following the news that Ferrari have parting ways with Sebastian Vettel, the Scuderia has confirmed Carlos Sainz Jr as a replacement to the four-time world champion for the 2021 season.

With Vettel leaving the team at the end of the season, Ferrari moved swiftly by striking a contract with Sainz as his replacement.

Ferrari issued a statement confirming Sainz would be joining the team from McLaren for the 2021 season, partnering Charles Leclerc.

Ferrari said Sainz had signed a two-year deal.

“I am very happy that I will be driving for Scuderia Ferrari in 2021 and I’m excited about my future with the team.”

“I still have an important year ahead with McLaren Racing and I’m really looking forward to going racing again with them this season.”

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto commented:

“I’m pleased to announce that Carlos will join Scuderia Ferrari as from the 2021 championship.”

“With five seasons already behind him, Carlos has proved to be very talented and has shown that he has the technical ability and the right attributes to make him an ideal fit with our family.

“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 fifty years of the Scuderia, will be the best possible combination to help us reach the goals we have set ourselves.”

McLaren had earlier confirming that Sainz would be leaving the team at the end of 2020 after the signing of Daniel Ricciardo, whose own departure from Renault was also confirmed.

Sainz was one of the breakout stars of the 2019 season as he finished sixth in the championship for McLaren, scoring the team’s first podium in almost six years at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

McLaren had already opened talks with Sainz over a new contract beyond 2020 as he entered the second season of his two-year deal, but negotiations had not advanced to a late enough stage to fend off interest from Ferrari.

It marks the latest big step for Sainz in a Formula 1 career that has accelerated rapidly in the last three years since his departure from Toro Rosso.

Promoted to the sport alongside fellow Red Bull junior Max Verstappen in 2015, Sainz spent almost three seasons with Toro Rosso before joining Renault with four races left in the 2017 campaign.

Renault’s deal to sign Ricciardo left Sainz without a drive for 2019, only for McLaren to pick up Carlos on a two-year contract.

Sainz quickly adjusted to life with McLaren, forging a good relationship off-track with rookie teammate Lando Norris, and was able to lead the team on-track as it recorded its best constructors’ championship finish since 2012.

As talks broke down with Vettel, Ferrari quickly identified Sainz as the driver it wanted to partner Leclerc for the future, allowing the deal to be announced just 48 hours after Vettel’s departure was made official.

So congratulations to Carlos Sainz Jr with this promotion. Joining Ferrari alongside Charles Leclerc makes it an exciting line-up and it is going to be fascinating to see him develop as a winner after scoring a podium in Brazil. Hopefully good times are in store for Sainz.

Ricciardo leaves Renault for McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo will race in McLaren papaya orange in the 2021 Formula 1 season as a replacement to Carlos Sainz Jr.

With Sainz off to Ferrari following the news Sebastian Vettel will leave the team, McLaren has confirmed the honey badger will be joining at the end of the year.

The new deal will see the seven-time Grand Prix winner leave Renault, where he has raced for the last two seasons following his departure from Red Bull Racing.

McLaren has been keen on working for Ricciardo for some time, making an approach for the Australian when he weighed up his Formula 1 future in 2018.

Ricciardo ultimately decided to sign for Renault, who finished behind McLaren in the constructors’ championship last season.

Lando Norris has also been confirmed as staying at McLaren to partner Ricciardo.

McLaren Racing’s CEO Zak Brown had this to say:

“Signing Daniel is another step forward in our long-term plan and will bring an exciting new dimension to the team, alongside Lando. This is good news for our team, partners and of course our fans.”

“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.”

Team principal Andreas Seidl commented about Ricciardo joining the team:

“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 teammates, I believe we have two racers who will continue to excite our fans and help the team grow.

“Carlos is a true professional, a pleasure to work with and we will continue to enjoy going racing with him this year. We all wish him good luck for the next stage in his career when he leaves McLaren.”

McLaren had already opened talks with Sainz over a new contract after his impressive display for the team last season, only for Ferrari to swoop in once Vettel’s exit was confirmed.

Since returning to Formula 1 as a works team in 2016, Renault has been open in its target to return to the front of the field upon the new set of technical regulations, which now come into force for 2022.

Ricciardo signed for Renault fully aware of the long-term nature of the project, but the team failed to bridge the gap to the leading three teams as hoped through 2019.

Renault is yet to indicate who will replace Ricciardo at the team, but it now holds one of the highest-profile open seats in Formula 1 for 2021.

Outgoing Ferrari driver Vettel has been linked with the seat, as has two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, who previously raced for Renault in two stints from 2003-06 and in 2008-09.

Renault has also been bold in its ambition to have a graduate from its junior academy on the Formula 1 grid by 2021, a possibility strengthened by Ricciardo’s departure.

Guanyu Zhou and Christian Lundgaard are the two leading members of the Renault Sport Academy, both racing in Formula 2 this year.

So fantastic news to get Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren. It’s going to be fascinating to see Ricciardo driving with a Mercedes-powered car and fighting for points. He gets along very well with teammate Lando Norris, thanks to jokes and banter. Best of luck Daniel!

Vettel leaves Ferrari after 2020 season

Scuderia Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel will part ways at the end of the 2020 Formula 1 season, calling it a joint decision.

It follows the news that Vettel was set to leave the team at the end of the year after a breakdown in negotiations over a new contract.

Sebastian’s existing three-year deal expires at the end of 2020, but after months of discussions over a fresh contract without a breakthrough, the decision was taken to part company.

Ferrari confirmed Vettel’s departure in an official statement with quotes from team principal Mattia Binotto.

“This is a decision taken jointly by ourselves and Sebastian, one which both parties feel is for the best.”

“It was not an easy decision to reach, given Sebastian’s worth as a driver and as a person. There was no specific reason that led to this decision, apart from the common and amicable belief that the time had come to go our separate ways in order to reach our respective objectives.”

Vettel is understood to have been offered a short-term contract at a reduced salary compared to his previous deals, but stressed in his announcement that financial considerations played no part in the decision.

“In order to get the best possible results in this sport, it’s vital for all parties to work in perfect harmony. The team and I have realised that there is no longer a common desire to stay together beyond the end of this season.”

“Financial matters have played no part in this joint decision. That’s not the way I think when it comes to making certain choices and it never will be.

“What’s been happening in these past few months has led many of us to reflect on what are our real priorities in life. One needs to use one’s imagination and to adopt a new approach to a situation that has changed. I myself will take the time I need to reflect on what really matters when it comes to my future.

“Scuderia Ferrari occupies a special place in Formula 1 and I hope it gets all the success it deserves. Finally, I want to thank the whole Ferrari family and above all its ‘Tifosi’ all around the world, for the support they have given me over the years.

“My immediate goal is to finish my long stint with Ferrari, in the hope of sharing some more beautiful moments together, to add to all those we have enjoyed so far.”

As for the future for the four-time world champion? It’s unclear if there is a seat back at Red Bull Racing or an opportunity to join the current title winners Mercedes. The most realistic outcome is to call time on the sport and retire. Team boss Binotto paid tribute to Vettel with his commitment at the team in these past few seasons:

“On behalf of everyone at Ferrari, I want to thank Sebastian for his great professionalism and the human qualities he has displayed over these five years, during which we shared so many great moments.”

“We have not yet managed to win a world title together, which would be a fifth for him, but we believe that we can still get a lot out of this unusual 2020 season.”

Scuderia Ferrari is yet to make any announcement on who will replace Vettel for 2021 and join Charles Leclerc at Maranello. It’s going to be fascinating to see who will step up to the challenge.

As for Vettel, thank you for the memories at Ferrari. Scoring 12 pole positions, winning 14 races and coming second in the championship twice for the Scuderia. Best of luck to Sebastian in his next outing, be it in Formula 1 or something else that he loves to compete in.

Late start to Formula 1 2020 season

Following the news that the season-opening Australian Grand Prix is cancelled and the postponement of the races in China, Bahrain and Vietnam, Formula 1 and the sport’s governing body have said they now ‘expect’ the 2020 season to begin at the end of May.

The outbreak of COVID-19 forced the Chinese event to be postponed. And then, during the build-up to Melbourne, a McLaren team member tested positive for the virus.

With that major health concern, the next race which was suppose to take place in Bahrain next weekend, and the first ever Vietnam Grand Prix, scheduled for the beginning of April, have been postponed.

A joint statement from Formula 1, the FIA, the race organisers and the relevant governments involved, said:

“Following the announcement of the Australian Grand Prix’s cancellation this week and the ongoing and fluid nature of the COVID-19 situation globally, Formula 1, the FIA and the promoters have taken these decisions in order to ensure the health and safety of the travelling staff, championship participants and fans, which remains our primary concern.”

All parties said they were hopeful the races could be staged at a later date, and in light of the impact the virus is having, the statement added that it is expected the Formula 1 season can begin at the end of May.

“Formula 1 and the FIA continue to work closely with the race promoters in Bahrain and Vietnam and the local health authorities to monitor the situation and take the appropriate amount of time to study the viability of potential alternative dates for each Grand Prix later in the year should the situation improve.

“As a result, Formula 1 and the FIA expect to begin the Championship in Europe at the end of May but given the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Europe in recent days, this will be regularly reviewed.”

Chase Carey, Formula 1 Chairman and CEO, said the safety of the fans and people working in the sport is the main priority.

“The global situation regarding COVID-19 is fluid and very difficult to predict and it’s right we take time to assess the situation and make the right decisions.

“We are taking this decision with the FIA and our promoters to ensure the safety of everyone involved in Formula 1 and our fans. The Bahrain Grand Prix is an exciting race in our schedule, and we look forward to being back there as soon as we can. We are also looking forward to Vietnam’s inaugural race and bringing the spectacle of F1 to one of the most exciting cities in the world.”

FIA President Jean Todt added the following statement:

“Protecting people first. Together with Formula 1, the Bahrain Motor Federation, the Vietnamese Motorsports Association, and the local promoters, postponing both the Bahrain and Vietnam Grands Prix, as with the Australian Grand Prix, was the only possible decision given all of the information currently available to us.

“We continue to rely on the input and advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and governments and will work with them throughout this unpredictable period to safeguard the fans, competitors and all of the motor sport community.”

With the four of the opening races cancelled, this year’s championship will feature fewer events. It’s a difficult situation for the teams, the race organisations and all the people running the show in managing the new schedule. Fingers crossed a solution is available. For fans of the sport, the excitement of seeing racing action will have to wait.

Season opener Australian Grand Prix cancelled

The first race of the new Formula 1 season is now cancelled following the coronavirus pandemic.

Australian Grand Prix organisers, F1 and the sport’s governing body (FIA) have agreed to cancel the season opener in Melbourne for the sake of health and well being.

The move follows hours of confusion after confirmation of a McLaren team member returning a positive COVID-19 test last night.

Spectators were denied entry to the circuit this morning, while competitive track action never started despite marshalling crews being in place and course cars and two-seater F1 cars lapping the circuit.

Official statement from the AGPC on the cancellation:

“At 9am today the Australian Grand Prix Corporation was advised by Formula 1 of their intention to cancel all Formula 1 activity at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix.”

“In light of this decision and updated advice this morning from the Chief Health Officer of the Victorian Government’s Department of Human and Health Services, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation confirms the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix is cancelled immediately.

“Last night a member of the McLaren Racing team tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. A further seven individuals returned negative results, confirming that they do not have the COVID-19 virus.

“Additionally, a ninth individual has been assessed and tested for the COVID-19 virus, with the results of this test pending. This individual is not associated with any Formula 1 team, the FIA or associated suppliers.

“Our first priority is the safety of everyone including attendees, our personnel, all event partners and members of the local community.

“Further information regarding refunds for ticket holders will be communicated in due course.”

A statement from Formula 1 read:

“Following the confirmation that a member of the McLaren Racing Team has tested positive for COVID-19 and the team’s decision to withdraw from the Australian Grand Prix, Formula 1 and the FIA convened a meeting of the other nine team principals on Thursday evening.

“Those discussions concluded with a majority view of the teams that the race should not go ahead. Formula 1 and the FIA, with the full support of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) have therefore taken the decision that all Formula 1 activity for the Australian Grand Prix is cancelled.

“We appreciate this is very disappointing news for the thousands of fans due to attend the race and all ticket holders will receive a full refund and a further announcement will be communicated in due course.

“All parties took into consideration the huge efforts of the AGPC, Motorsport Australia, staff and volunteers to stage the opening round of the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship in Melbourne, however concluded that the safety of all members of the Formula 1 family and the wider community, as well as the fairness of the competition take priority.”

Even before the official confirmation, Mercedes publicly called on F1 and the FIA to call off the race.

“The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team has today sent a letter to the FIA and F1 requesting the cancellation of the 2020 Australian Grand Prix,” the statement read. “We share the disappointment of the sport’s fans that this race cannot go ahead as planned. However, the physical and mental health and wellbeing of our team members and of the wider F1 community are our absolute priority.

“In light of the force majeure events we are experiencing with regards to the Coronavirus pandemic, we no longer feel the safety of our employees can be guaranteed if we continue to take part in the event.

“We empathise strongly with the worsening situation in Europe, most especially in Italy, and furthermore we do not feel it would be right to participate in an event where fellow competitors such as McLaren are unable to do so through circumstances beyond their control.

“Our team will therefore begin pack-up preparations at the circuit this morning.”

This is the correct decision to shut it down considering what is happening around the world. Although it is pure arrogance that the FIA and the race organisation wanted to stage the Australian Grand Prix in the first place due to commercial pressure. Thankfully, common sense has prevailed in this situation but how many more races will be postponed or cancelled?

Alfa Romeo unveils 2020 Formula 1 car on eve of pre-season testing

The Alfa Romeo Formula 1 team unveiled their C39 to the world’s press just before day one of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

The former Sauber outfit presented their 2020 race car in the pitlane, having previously given the C39 a maiden run in a camo livery in a Fiorano shakedown earlier.

Drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi were on hand to lift the covers off the new livery, which remains largely unchanged from last year’s design.

The white base colour remains with red trim, but with additional branding for new title partner Orlen – on the front wing endplates, rear wing and sidepod – following its arrival for the 2020 season. The blue lines that were on the 2019 car’s nosecone have been painted red.

New reserve driver Robert Kubica form part of Alfa Romeo’s driving talent following his race stint with Williams last year.

In addition to the C39 launch, Alfa Romeo confirmed it has retained 2020 Super Formula newcomer Tatiana Calderon in a test driver capacity.

So that’s all the Formula 1 race cars from the ten teams. Pre-season testing gets underway at the Spanish Grand Prix race circuit and it will be fascinating which team/car is looking good in the early stages.

The opening round of the championship begins next month at Melbourne, Albert Park. So testing is highly important in terms of getting technical feedback and knowledge.

Racing Point debuts 2020 car

This is the new ‘Pink Panther’ Formula 1 car from Racing Point. The team revealed its 2020 livery at BWT’s Austrian base in Mondsee including the news on a long-term sponsorship deal with water technology company.

Featuring a revised paint job on new RP20, the team’s previous title sponsor, betting firm SportPesa, is no longer involved.

Racing Point drivers Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll will again drive the car, with the former signing a new contract to stay with the team for a number of years.

The team will now compete as ‘BWT Racing Point F1 Team’, and branding for its title sponsor is more prominent on the car and on the race suits compared to 2019.

The RP20 is the second car produced by Racing Point since it was rescued by a consortium led by Lance Stroll’s father Lawrence Stroll ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix in 2018.

It was announced that the team will be rebranded as Aston Martin next year after Lawrence Stroll bought into the manufacturer last month.

The 2020 season is the second that Sergio Perez – who joined the team in 2014 – and Stroll will be teammates.

They finished P10 and P15 in the 2019 drivers’ standings, with Racing Point ending up seventh in the constructors’ championship.

“This year we want to be a strong fourth,” team boss Otmar Szafnauer said. “We want to be closer to the top three that we’ve ever been in the past, and we want to be top of the midfield.

“Last year was a bit of a difficult year for us, we ended up seventh, on the back end of the midfield grid, but this year we want to take a step up and be where we normally can be.

“In order to do that, we’ve had to do a lot of development work over the winter. It’s not that easy, the competition is getting stronger: McLaren did a really good job last year; Renault, with the might of the motor company behind them and the 650-plus employees that they have, aren’t going to be easy [to beat]; even Toro Rosso [AlphaTauri] with the resurgence of the Honda powertrain did really well towards the end of last year.

“But I’m confident that the work we’ve done over the winter on the new car, and the work that Mercedes, our powertrain partner, has done on the powertrain, and the hard work the drivers have been doing to keep fit and work in our simulators, we will have a good chance to hit our targets.”

It’s going to be a fascinating season for the BWT-sponsored team and it will be interesting to see the performance compared to their rivals. Best wishes Racing Point.

New look for Williams F1 in 2020

This is the new livery design and car concept from Williams. The Mercedes-powered FW43 will be driven by George Russell and the 2019 Formula 2 runner-up Nicholas Latifi this season.

Its red, white and blue livery represents a major departure from the colour scheme as seen on the FW42.

Williams is coming off the back of a disappointing 2019 season where it finished last in the constructors’ championship with just a single point scored by Robert Kubica in the German Grand Prix.

The outfit endured a particularly difficult start to the year when its new car was late for pre-season testing, and it parted company with then technical chief Paddy Lowe soon after.

Its problems prompted the team to change its processes and conduct a reshuffling of staff, and it is all set to make the start of testing now, with the car having already run in a Barcelona shakedown.

“This year marks a fresh start for the team,“ said deputy team principal Claire Williams.

“We have spent time addressing our areas of weakness and have ensured that we have the right people, structures, procedures and resource in place to deliver competitive race cars. We are all committed to re-building Williams and returning the team to competitiveness.

“As such, our 2020 campaign is about making progress. The fighting spirit is still very much alive, and this year, everyone will continue that fight until we get back to where we want to be.”

Hopefully the new FW43 will turn around the disappointing and frustrating past year with a solid performance in 2020. Best of luck Williams.

AlphaTauri presents bold livery and car

Scuderia Toro Rosso is no more, as the team is now rebranded as AlphaTauri and this is the new livery and 2020 car, the AT01.

It certainly looks fresh and exciting after so many seasons featuring the Red Bull branding. The white and blue livery looks brilliant. The AT01 was unveiled at Red Bull’s Hanger 7 facility in Salzburg after the presentation of AlphaTauri’s clothing line and team wear.

AlphaTauri, which was founded in 2016 and is headquartered in Salzburg, is Red Bull’s in-house fashion brand.

The rebrand is the team’s first since Red Bull took over the Minardi Formula 1 entry and Faenza base ahead of the 2006 season, and means that familiar ‘STR’ prefix in the names of the cars themselves has also been retired.

Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly will unite for their first season starting as team mates following Gasly’s demotion from the senior Red Bull Racing outfit ahead of last year’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Although both drivers raced for Toro Rosso in 2017, Kvyat’s 15 races and Gasly’s five outings – in a season when the team ran six drivers – did not coincide.

The team finished sixth in the 2019 constructors’ championship – its best result since 2008, the year Sebastian Vettel famously won the Italian Grand Prix.

Both Kvyat and Gasly scored podiums for Toro Rosso in 2019 – the former took third at the crazy German Grand Prix and the latter finished second in Brazil.

“We are looking with a new car to a new season, and I must say we are very optimistic for this season,” said team principal Franz Tost.

“Why? Because first of all the car showed very good results in the windtunnel, for second Honda, our friends in Japan, Sakura, made big progress during the winter months, from the performance side as well as from the reliability side. Third, we have two good drivers, they showed it already last year.

“We are really optimistic. The team must perform well, we have a fantastic partner with AlphaTauri and I am really convinced that AlphaTauri will have a successful season.”

Hopefully the performance by AlphaTauri this season will be competitive even with a new paint job. Best of luck to the team previously known as Toro Rosso.

World champions Mercedes unveils their 2020 challenger, the W11

This is the new W11 from the defending Formula 1 world champions, Mercedes. The German car manufacturer hopes that this 2020 race car can earn the team’s their seventh successive title.

Mercedes released some images of the W11 online followed by a shakedown test at a filming day at Silverstone.

Mercedes will have an unchanged driver line-up this year, with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas remaining on board for the fourth season as teammates.

The Brackley-based team had already revealed the tweaked livery of the W11 at a sponsorship event with new principal partner INEOS.

Mercedes success in the V6 turbo-hybrid era has broken several records and 2019 was one of its most emphatic seasons yet.

The team won the first eight races of the season, 15 in total from the 21 grands prix, and banked 739 points – its second-highest tally despite more competition than before.

However, while Ferrari and Red Bull had clear peaks and moments of superiority over Mercedes last year, neither put together a full title challenge.

That is expected to change this year, the final season with this set of car regulations, which means Mercedes’ should face the biggest threat to its dominance.

“I think success is taking each day at a time,” said team boss Toto Wolff about Mercedes’ 2020 goals. “Today success would be a good shakedown, we clock the mileage and get the filming in, both drivers get a first feeling with the car.

“No brake failure would be good!”

Hamilton said he did not feel any pressure at this point of his season preparations, and batted away talk he has seen from other drivers including Max Verstappen – who was recently quoted as saying that Hamilton was “good but not God”.

When asked at Mercedes’ shakedown about winter comments from rivals, Hamilton replied: “I find it funny, seeing that. I’ve always known to do my talking on the track. Often I tend to see [off-track comments] as a sign of weakness.”

Hamilton has never questioned Mercedes’ work ethic but it was clear last year that he felt there was plenty of room to improve with its 2020 car.

That was down to the aerodynamic and engine sides of the package.

“It’s not been a great year for us in terms of the great issue, in terms of our engine development,” said Hamilton in 2019. “It’s just not been as successful in that department, as I say.

“We’ll push to try and maybe reduce the drag a little bit but also increase power for next year.”

Earlier this year, Mercedes High Performance Powertrains chief Andy Cowell said his team had indeed targeted “lots of improvements across the whole power unit, on the ERS side and on the internal combustion engine side”.

The work on the W11 that began in late-2018 will have evolved to incorporate the lessons of the chassis department last year, too.