McLaren sign Ricciardo, Ferrari gets Sainz, Renault gets chippy

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The music has stopped and the game of Formula 1 musical chairs has, once again, found a seat for Carlos Sainz and Daniel Riccardo but it did leave Renault and Sebastian Vettel still standing with many wondering if the two could make a deal or will there be a delay on any announcement regarding their future?

Renault announced today that Daniel Ricciardo will be leaving the team at about the same time as McLaren announced that Ricciardo would be joining their team for the 2021 season. Ricciardo would be taking the seat of Carlos Sainz who Ferrari announced would be taking Vettel’s vacant seat.

Dan’s departure from Renault does not surprise me and with McLaren and a Mercedes engine, he could be making a good move for 2021. A little more surprising is that Ferrari have hitched their wagon to two young drivers and they traditionally haven’t done so.

Having said that, Ferrari may believe that Carlos Sainz is a safer bet to play well with their number one deriver, Charles Leclerc, but I wouldn’t be too sure about that. Carlos isn’t chump change and has the desire to win every much as Daniel Ricciardo.

If I were Ferrari, I would have chose Dan but on second thought, I think Dan will be a great fit at McLaren and Carlos will tick all the boxes for Ferrari.

In typical fashion, Dan didn’t exit Renault without team boss Cyril Abiteboul having a go at him. Renault said:

“Within the unprecedented context of the 2020 season, discussions held with Daniel Ricciardo concerning a renewal of his contract beyond the end of 2020 have not been successful.

Cyril Abiteboul: “In our sport, and particularly within the current extraordinary situation, reciprocated confidence, unity and commitment are, more than ever, critical values for a works team. I am confident that the 2020 season will allow us to accomplish even more together. Our ambitions and the strategy of Renault DP World F1 Team remain unchanged.”

While McLaren and Ferrari have made their announcements quickly, I get the impression Renault are left holding the bag and it could be some time before they figure out what they are going to do. When you compare how Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes and McLaren operate, Renault should see the obvious cracks in their leadership.

If I were heading Renault, I think I would make two seats available. One for a new driver and one for a new team boss.

So who will join Renault? Would Vettel? Will Fernando Alonso come calling? Could Nico Hulkenberg be an easy solution?

Ferrari said:

Mattia Binotto, Managing Director Gestione Sportiva and Team Principal

“I’m pleased to announce that Carlos will join Scuderia Ferrari as from the 2021 championship. 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 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 fifty years of the Scuderia, will be the best possible combination to help us reach the goals we have set ourselves”.

Carlos Sainz #55

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

Born in Madrid on 1st September 1994, Carlos already has plenty of Formula 1 experience, having taken part in 102 World Championship Grands Prix, over five seasons. In 2019, he finished sixth in the Drivers’ Championship, his best ever result, in a year when he also made it to a podium position for the first time, finishing third in Brazil.

McLaren said:

Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing, commented:

“Signing Daniel is another step forward in our long-term plan and will bring an exciting new dimension to the team, alongside Lando. This is good news for our team, partners and of course our fans.

“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.”

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal, McLaren F1, commented:

“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. With Daniel and Lando as teammates, 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.”

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Ladies and gentlemen, the dominoes are beginning to fall.

The Captain

“When you compare how Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes and McLaren operate, Renault should see the obvious cracks in their leadership.”

Pretty bold of you to put Ferrari in there as an example of good leadership…. :)


Agreed. My sports fantasy is to have Seb and Ham Sandwich on the same team for just one season, to finally decide which is truly the best driver of this generation (begrudgingly it would probably be Hamilton, but a boy can dream, can’t he?)


Is joining McLaren the best option for Dan, he’s not going to win the WDC there, Merc won’t allow a customer team to beat them. He won’t be a #1 driver there either.
Kind of negates the point of leaving RBR in the first place.

Still find the idea of Sainz at Ferrari odd, bit like pineapple on a pizza.


It was the best option he could hope for. As it stands right now, McLaren is a step better than Renault, and they may still make progress this season. Ricciardo has nothing to lose by making this switch.

Steven Boyd

This should be the end of Abiteboul – but it’s Renault so they’ll extend his contract….