Ricciardo signs for McLaren for 2021, Sainz to Ferrari

Daniel Ricciardo will leave Renault at the end of the 2020 season to team up with Lando Norris at McLaren, the Woking team has announced.

Following the surprise news that Sebastian Vettel would be leaving Ferrari at the end of the season, the news sees Sainz go the other way, replacing the four-time world champion at the Scuderia.

“Daniel is another step in our long-term plan and will bring an exciting new dimension,” said McLaren Racing chief executive officer Zak Brown. “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.”

Ricciardo left Red Bull at the end of 2018 to join the works Renault, but things despite the significant budget and resource of the works outfit, the car was never competitive enough to allow the Australian to challenge for podiums, whilst McLaren has made significant strides 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,” commented team principal Andreas Seidl. “With Daniel and Lando as team-mates, 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.”

Shortly following the announcement that Vettel would be leaving Ferrari, many media outlets were predicting it would be either Ricciardo or Sainz who would fill the vacant seat. And it is the Spaniard who will be donning the famous scarlet overalls to join Charles Leclerc in what is an exciting young line-up.

“I am very happy that I will be driving for Scuderia Ferrari in 2021 and I’m excited about my future with the team,” said Sainz on his Twitter feed. “I still have an important year ahead with McLaren Racing and I’m really looking forward to going racing again with them this season.”

Team boss Mattia Binotto added that he hoped the partnership, the youngest in 50 years at Ferrari, would help to get the team back to the top of the Formula One pecking order.

“I’m pleased to announce that Carlos will join Scuderia Ferrari as from the 2021 championship,” added Binotto. “With five seasons already behind him, Carlos has proved to be very talented and has shown that he has the technical ability and the right attributes to make him an ideal fit with our family.

“We’ve embarked on a new cycle with the aim of getting back to the top in Formula One. 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 fifty years of the Scuderia, will be the best possible combination to help us reach the goals we have set ourselves.”

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.