McLaren has announced that Carlos Sainz Jr will join the team for 2019 on a multi-year deal, filling the vacated seat left by Fernando Alonso.
On Tuesday Alonso announced he would be leaving the team and the series after much speculation over his future, with reports linking him to a full-time IndyCar seat as he looks to complete motorsports unofficial ‘Triple Crown’.
Sainz Jr will move across from Renault after losing his seat at the team following Daniel Ricciardo’s shock move to the French team earlier this month.
The move to the Woking outfit will leave the door open for Pierre Gasly to move up to the senior Red Bull team alongside Max Verstappen.
The Spaniard’s team-mate is yet to be confirmed with Stoffel Vandoorne under pressure to keep his seat and Formula 2 and McLaren junior driver Lando Norris also in the frame.
“We’re incredibly excited to have Carlos join us as a McLaren driver,” said McLaren boss 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.
“Carlos brings with him the perfect blend of youth and experience. 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’s no secret that Carlos is a huge admirer of Fernando’s, and it’s fitting that he will be stepping into his seat as a Spaniard with a legendary name in motorsport. We think he’ll be a great fit for McLaren and we’re really excited to have him join us from next season and beyond.”
Sainz added: “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.
“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 fulfil 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 confimed it would confirm its full line-up in due course, with Vandoorne’s seat under threat.
Source and image: Motorsport Week