McLaren have confirmed that Carlos Sainz will join their team as a race driver for the 2019 season onwards.
The Spanish driver, currently racing with Renault, has been linked with a McLaren seat for some time now, having become a strong contender for a seat in light of the signing of Daniel Ricciardo alongside Nico Hulkenberg at Renault.
According to McLaren, the 23 year old has signed a multi-year deal, believed to be a two year contract that will take him to the end of 2020.
“I’m delighted to finally be able to confirm that I’ll be a McLaren driver from the 2019 season” said the Spaniard, who replaces his outgoing compatriot and friend Fernando Alonso in the seat. “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.”
Sainz, who was racing with Renault on loan from the Red Bull camp, is understood to have had an agreement in place that would see him kept under contract by Red Bull provided he was given a seat at the senior team. If not, then his contract would be released. With Sainz now seemingly released from his Red Bull agreement, it’s highly likely that the RBR team have opted to promote Pierre Gasly alongside Max Verstappen.
CEO of McLaren, Zak Brown, welcomed Sainz to the team: “We’re incredibly excited to have Carlos join us as a McLaren driver. 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.”
It’s not yet been announced who will be in the second McLaren, with Stoffel Vandoorne not yet confirmed for another season.
— Carlos Sainz (@Carlossainz55) August 16, 2018