By Adam Tate, Associate Editor
After the shocking news that Daniel Ricciardo was bound for Renault in 2019, Carlos Sainz has been in desperate need of a seat for next season. For months there has been talk linking him to McLaren to replace Stoffel Vandoorne, but with Fernando Alonso’s huge announcement that he is leaving Formula 1 at the end of the season, it gave the Woking-based team the chance to snag Sainz quickly and they wasted little time in doing so.
Sainz replaces his childhood hero and fellow countryman in a multi-year deal, which will also allow a chance to attempt to finish the rebuilding started by Alonso.
The 23-year-old spoke with reverence for the team’s storied history and is eager to write his own story in the McLaren saga.
“I’m very excited about this next chapter in my career,” Sainz said. “I’ve been a McLaren fan for as long as I can remember. It’s a great name in the sport with an incredible heritage, and the list of drivers that have raced for McLaren over the years are among the heroes of Formula 1.
“Fernando is of course one of them, so it’s particularly special that I’ll be taking his seat as part of the next generation of Spanish racing drivers behind the wheel of a McLaren.
“Finally, I’d like to thank everyone at McLaren for giving me this opportunity to fulfill a childhood dream. The team has a long-term plan for the future and I’m very much looking forward to playing a key role in its journey back to success.”
McLaren CEO Zak Brown seemed very happy to have secured such a talented and eager replacement for Alonso so quickly as he praised the teams newest addition.
“Carlos brings with him the perfect blend of youth and experience,” Brown said. “Although he’s just 23, he’ll be starting his fifth season in the sport with us and will bring with him a huge amount of racing experience, both in Formula 1 and with our partner Renault.”
It is worth noting that there was no mention of who will join Sainz next year in the second McLaren as the pressure mounts for Vandoorne to secure his future with the team beyond the end of the season.