Ferrari sign Sainz & Ricciardo goes to McLaren for 2021 Formula 1 season
Daniel Ricciardo is to race for McLaren in 2021, taking the seat of Carlos Sainz, who will move to Ferrari.
The double switch was announced by both teams on Thursday morning in a choreographed series of news releases.
Ricciardo will partner Lando Norris, while Sainz is to replace four-time champion Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari.
McLaren Racing chief executive officer Zak Brown said Ricciardo brings “an exciting new dimension to the team”; Ferrari said Sainz was “the ideal fit”.
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto added that Sainz “had proved to be very talented and has shown that he has the technical ability and the right attributes”.
Vettel’s departure from Ferrari at the end of this season was confirmed on Tuesday.
McLaren had to release Sainz from his contractual obligations to the team before he could join Ferrari - the team had an option on the 25-year-old Spaniard for 2021.
And they needed to secure Ricciardo’s signature before that happened.
Ferrari have identified Sainz as the ideal support for Leclerc, whose starring performances in his first season with the team last year undermined Vettel’s status and precipitated his departure when he was not prepared to accept diminished contractual terms. Leclerc signed a five-year deal until 2024 over the winter.
Ferrari, who say they have signed Sainz on a two-year deal, will envisage the Spaniard in the type of back-up role Valtteri Bottas plays to Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes - quick enough to be close to him and engage in battle with other front-runners but unlikely to be a consistent challenge.
Binotto added: “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 50 years of the Scuderia, will be the best possible combination to help us reach the goals we have set ourselves.”
Sainz, who previously drove for Toro Rosso and Renault before moving to McLaren last year, is likely to view the move as an opportunity to prove himself as a top-line driver. -BBC