Photo: Renault Sport

McLaren Announces Ricciardo to Replace Sainz for 2021 F1 Season

By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief

Daniel Ricciardo has been officially confirmed at McLaren for the 2021 Formula 1 season.

The 30-year-old Australian will finish out the current year with Renault before replacing Carlos Sainz Jr. and teaming alongside Lando Norris at the Woking-based squad next year. 

The announcement of Ricciardo to McLaren all but officially confirms Sainz will join Ferrari, who agreed on Tuesday to part ways with four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel at the end of 2020. 

Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing, believes that signing Ricciardo will continue to elevate the team, which finished fourth in the 2019 constructors’ standings.

“Signing Daniel is another step forward in our long-term plan and will bring an exciting new dimension to the team, alongside Lando,” said Brown. “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.”

Brown and McLaren pressed to sign Ricciardo after he left Red Bull Racing at the end of 2018. However, he ultimately signed with Renault and struggled in the mid-pack with only one top five result – a fourth in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza – to show for a season’s worth of effort. Meanwhile, McLaren managed to have somewhat of a resurgence as they led the middle tier of the grid, having even scored a podium after Sainz finished third at the Brazlian Grand Prix.

Additionally, the announcement also confirms Norris will remain with the team, with 2021 to mark his third year in F1.

With seven career Grand Prix victories to date, Ricciardo brings winning experience the team hasn’t had since two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso in 2018. For his part, team principal Andreas Seidl echoed Brown’s comments on Ricciardo’s impact on the team moving forward.

“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,” said Seidl. “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.”

Renault has not announced Ricciardo’s replacement at this time.

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Joey Barnes is the Founder of Motorsports Tribune. He has covered auto racing since 2013 that has spanned from Formula 1 to NASCAR, with coverage on IndyCar. Additionally, his work has appeared on Racer, and Autoweek magazine. In 2017, he was recognized with an award in Spot News Writing by the National Motorsports Press Association.