McLaren could announce Carlos Sainz as Fernando Alonso’s replacement before the end of the week according to website ESPN.
The Woking-based outfit confirmed yesterday Alonso’s decision not to race in Formula 1 in 2019, although the 37-year-old Spaniard did leave the door open for a return to Grand Prix racing in the future.
McLaren boss Zak Brown revealed that discussions with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo had taken place earlier this summer, but the team had also engaged with Sainz, a potential successor to Ricciardo at Red Bull Racing.
The Australian driver’s surprise decision to join Renault next year ignited the drivers’ market, with various changes and permutations now in the works up and down the grid.
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ESPN contends that Sainz will move to McLaren on the basis of a two-year. If confirmed, the news would likely lead to Pierre Gasly’s promotion from Toro Rosso to Red Bull where he would race alongside Max Verstappen.
In turn, Gasly’s departure from Faenza could guarantee Brendon Hartley a second full year of Formula 1, but it’s uncertain who would fill the void alongside the Kiwi given Red Bull’s lack of eligible junior drivers.
As for the driver that could be sitting on the other side of the McLaren garage next year, opposite Sainz, the team would likely chose either Stoffel Vandoorne or junior driver Lando Norris.
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Zak Brown recently said that pairing two young drivers in 2019 “wouldn’t be a great place to be” for McLaren given its rebuilding process. It’s uncertain however if Brown would view Sainz and Norris as “two young drivers”.
Although Vandoorne’s future has been called into question at McLaren following the Belgian’s under-performance this year relative to Alonso, keeping the 26-year-old on board would ensure some continuity and stability for a team in the midst of its structural changes.
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