Sainz to race for McLaren in 2019

Carlos Sainz Jr. will join McLaren next season as a replacement for Fernando Alonso.

The Woking-based team confirmed Sainz as one of its 2019 drivers on a multi-year deal.

“We’re incredibly excited to have Carlos join us as a McLaren driver,” said McLaren CEO Zak Brown.

“We’ve been assessing him for some time now and rate him very highly among the next generation of young talent emerging through the ranks in Formula 1.”

The main complication McLaren faced with Sainz was his contractual situation with Red Bull.

Sainz is on loan from Red Bull at Renault this season but his long-time backer retained an option to recall him to the senior team.

With Ricciardo making the shock decision to quit Red Bull Racing for Renault, taking Sainz’s drive, McLaren had to wait until Red Bull decided whether to promote Sainz or Pierre Gasly.

This confirmation that Sainz will race for the Woking squad means Red Bull Racing has relinquished its option early and indicates it has committed to Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly partnering Max Verstappen next season.

Sainz said: “I’m delighted to finally be able to confirm that I’ll be a McLaren driver from the 2019 season.

“It’s something I’ve been looking at for a while and I’m very excited about this next chapter in my career.”

Reserve driver Lando Norris, Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon and current McLaren racer Stoffel Vandoorne are all linked to the second seat.

The team says it will announce its second driver “in due course”.

Congratulations to Carlos Sainz Jr. in getting the McLaren drive. Following his hero’s footsteps by taking the role with a top Formula 1 team as Fernando Alonso parts way from the sport come the end of the year.

It’s going to be fascinating to see if Stoffel Vandoorne came keep his seat in 2019. If not, rising Formula 2 star Lando Norris will get the dream opportunity to take part in Formula 1 with McLaren.

Best of luck to Sainz in his new squad come 2019.

Alonso to stop racing in Formula 1 after this season

Double world champion Fernando Alonso has called it a day by announcing he will not be racing in next year’s Formula 1 world championship.

The McLaren driver announced his decision on Tuesday, August 14th, mid-way through Formula 1’s summer break

“After 17 wonderful years in this amazing sport, it’s time for me to make a change and move on. I have enjoyed every single minute of those incredible seasons and I cannot thank enough the people who have contributed to make them all so special.

“There are still several grands prix to go this season, and I will take part in them with more commitment and passion than ever. Let’s see what the future brings; new exciting challenges are around the corner. I’m having one of the happiest times ever in my life but I need to go on exploring new adventures.

“I want to thank everyone at McLaren. My heart is with the team forever. I know they will come back stronger and better in the future and it could be the right moment for me to be back in the series; that would make me really happy.I have built so many great relationships with many fantastic people at McLaren, and they have given me the opportunity to broaden my horizons and race in other categories. I feel I am a more complete driver now than ever.

“I made this decision some months ago and it was a firm one. Nevertheless, I would like to sincerely thank Chase Carey and Liberty Media for the efforts made to change my mind and everyone who has contacted me during this time. Finally, I would also like to thank my former teams, teammates, competitors, colleagues, partners, journalists and everyone I have worked with in my F1 career. And, especially, my fans all over the world. I am quite sure our paths will cross again in the future.”

Alonso had been debating his future following years of frustration in the deeply uncompetitive McLaren, especially in terms of performance compared to the top three teams.

The Spaniard was allowed to miss the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix to make his Indianapolis 500 debut, and he challenged for race victory before retiring.

McLaren boss Zak Brown paid tribute to his driver by saying: “Fernando is not only an outstanding ambassador for McLaren but also for Formula 1.

“His 17 years in the sport, as arguably the pre-eminent driver of his generation and undoubtedly an F1 great, have added another layer to Formula 1’s rich history.

“There is a time for everyone to make a change and Fernando has decided the end of this season to be his.

“We respect his decision, even if we believe he is in the finest form of his career.”

McLaren said he was not allowed to repeat his Indy bid this year, but did give Alonso permission to combine his Formula 1 efforts with a full FIA World Endurance Championship superseason campaign.

Alonso went on to win the Le Mans 24 Hours at the first attempt with Toyota.

With two Monaco Grand Prix wins under his belt, Alonso’s Le Mans victory leaves just Indy unconquered in his bid for motorsport’s unofficial ‘triple crown’.

Alonso is extremely unlikely to add to his tally of 32 Grand Prix victories before he leaves Formula 1 at the end of the year, and is just three shy of hitting 100 podiums.

However, Alonso will surpass Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher in the list of all-time starts as he should end the year with 311 Grand Prix starts, which would only be bested by Rubens Barrichello, who has 322.

Alonso made his Formula 1 debut in 2001, driving for Minardi, before moving to Renault as a test driver the following season in preparation for a 2003 race seat.

He played a key role in helping the French manufacturer in achieving great success, taking his first win in Hungary that year and then becoming the youngest world champion in 2005.

Alonso bested Ferrari legend and seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher the following season to earn a second consecutive crown.

However, Alonso’s Formula 1 career has been on a slope since.

He moved to McLaren for 2007 but that descended into a bitter rivalry with the team’s rookie Lewis Hamilton, and after their battle allowed Kimi Raikkonen to steal the title at the final race Alonso went back to an uncompetitive Renault for 2008 and 2009.

Alonso switched to Ferrari for the 2010 season, but his timing was flawed and he spent five years wrestling with cars that were never the peak of the field.

Despite that, Alonso racked up 11 wins with the Scuderia and fought for the 2010 and 2012 titles, with his efforts in 2012 particularly memorable as he valiantly, but fruitlessly, attempted to deny Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull.

Alonso finally fell out with Ferrari when it badly misjudged the new-for-2014 V6 turbo-hybrid engine rules and was a distant third-best behind Mercedes and Red Bull.

He switched to McLaren for 2015, tempted by the prospect of restoring the ailing team to its recent former glories with the help of the full power of returning manufacturer Honda.

However, the second coming of McLaren-Honda was uncompetitive and unreliable from the beginning and Alonso spent most of the next three seasons dealing with immense frustration, which sometimes spilled out into public digs at the Japanese manufacturer.

McLaren decided to split from Honda at the end of 2017 and agreed a Renault supply, which the team and Alonso expected to facilitate challenges for podiums.

However, it has been comfortably bested by Red Bull and Renault’s works team, which is only in a rebuilding phase.

So a sad day for Formula 1 with the double champion quitting come the end of the season. My personal highlight will always be his title success with Renault in 2005-06. Such a beautiful race car too.

All the best to Fernando Alonso in his future career. Thanks for the memories.

Ricciardo leaves Red Bull and joins Renault

Daniel Ricciardo has made the shocked decision to leave Red Bull Racing and join rival Renault.

The Australian had been expected to sign a fresh contract with Red Bull, which has backed him since 2008.

But Daniel decided to go for a fresh new challenge and will drive for Renault Sport in 2019.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: “We fully respect Daniel’s decision to leave and we wish him all the best in his future.

“We would like to thank him for his dedication and the role he has played since joining the team in 2014, the highlights of course being the seven wins and the 29 podiums he has achieved so far with us.

“We will now continue to evaluate the numerous options available to us before deciding on which driver partners Max Verstappen for the 2019 season.

“In the meantime, there are still nine races left in 2018 and we are fully focused on maximising every opportunity for Max and Daniel for the remainder of the season.”

Ricciardo made his Formula 1 debut in mid-2011 when Red Bull placed him at HRT, and he joined its junior team Toro Rosso for 2012.

Daniel spent two years there before being picked to replace Mark Webber alongside Sebastian Vettel for 2014, and won three races.

Ricciardo bested Vettel’s replacement Daniil Kvyat when the four-time world champion left for Ferrari, and is level with Verstappen for wins since Max replaced Kvyat in early 2016.

However, Verstappen was awarded a lucrative new deal at the end of last year, with Ricciardo pushing Red Bull for better terms this year.

As Daniel assessed his options beyond 2018, he acknowledged Renault as a possible destination but the French car manufacturer appeared to be too early in the rebuilding phase of its works team project.

However, Renault has been able to convince Ricciardo it offers a credible alternative to Red Bull in the short-term, with Red Bull switching to Honda engines next season after growing frustrated with Renault.

The likely candidates to replace Ricciardo at Red Bull are current Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz, who Red Bull has under contract but has loaned out to Renault this year.

Sainz went on loan to Renault because his immediate options at Red Bull appeared limited.

However, putting him in the senior team would rekindle the Sainz/Verstappen rivalry at Toro Rosso from 2015 to early-2016, where there was friction behind the scenes.

Gasly is enjoying a fine rookie season with Toro Rosso and went into the summer with a sixth-place finish in Hungary to add to fourth place in Bahrain and seventh in Monaco.

 

By joining Renault, an exciting new partnership has been formed in the shape of The Hulk and the honey badger.

Ricciardo will partner Nico Hulkenberg, meaning Carlos Sainz will leave the French squad.

“It was probably one of the most difficult decisions to take in my career so far,” said Ricciardo. “But I thought that it was time for me to take on a fresh and new challenge.

“I realise that there is a lot ahead in order to allow Renault to reach their target of competing at the highest level but I have been impressed by their progression in only two years, and I know that each time Renault has been in the sport they eventually won. I hope to be able to help them in this journey and contribute on and off track.”

Renault’s Formula 1 boss Cyril Abiteboul said: “Daniel’s signing underscores our determination to accelerate our progress towards the forefront of the sport. It is also a recognition of the work accomplished over the past two and a half seasons.

“Daniel’s undoubted talent and charisma are a huge bonus and statement for the team. We will have to repay his faith in us by delivering the best car possible. We welcome him to our growing team in 2019 with a great deal of pride, but also humility.”

Ricciardo’s decision has come as a major surprise given he and Red Bull had indicated a new deal was a formality and there was suggestion it was just a matter of fine-tuning small details.

And yet, it follows a Hungarian Grand Prix weekend in which Red Bull’s Max Verstappen retired from the race with another Renault reliability problem and team boss Christian Horner lashed out at its engine supplier.

Ricciardo had spoken earlier this season of losing faith that Red Bull’s situation with Renault would improve enough to challenge Mercedes and Ferrari.

However, he has now been convinced by Renault that it is a better option than Red Bull.

This is a major coup for Renault, which had been in negotiations with Mercedes and Esteban Ocon to take him on loan, while also speaking to current driver Carlos Sainz about extending his stay.

Instead, Ricciardo will join to partner Hulkenberg, with Sainz now free to push to replace Ricciardo at Red Bull or find refuge at Toro Rosso or go to another team.

Ocon and Mercedes will likely have to wait to see what happens to Force India, which is in administration and trying to find a buyer, before it establishes where the highly-rated youngster races in 2019.

This could also impact the options available to Mercedes’ other junior driver George Russell, who is leading the Formula 2 title fight and making a strong case to step up to Formula 1 next year.

So an unexpected news that the honey badger has left the team in which he scored seven victories, 29 podium finishes, 2 pole positions and 904 points at Red Bull. Best of luck to Daniel Ricciardo at his new team. Fingers crossed Renault can provide him even greater success.