BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 27: Carlos Sainz of Spain and Renault Sport F1 walks in the Paddock after practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 27, 2018 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Carlos Sainz Jr, a Red Bull Racing driver on loan to Renault, will replace Fernando Alonso at McLaren for 2019. Alonso’s announcement that he will not drive in Formula 1 next season has left vacant a coveted seat. McLaren moved quickly to announce Carlos Sainz as Alonso’s replacement with a multi-year deal.

Carlos Sainz Jr To Replace Fernando Alonso At McLaren

Zak Brown, McLaren CEO, had hinted that both seats at McLaren could be available for 2019. It was clear that Alonso was increasingly disgruntled with the lack of progress that the Woking-based team had made.

The new Renault engine, brought in place of the troublesome Honda engines, was supposed to propel McLaren to the front of the grid this season. But the team took a backward step and has struggled in 2018. McLaren is languishing in seventh position in the constructors’ championship after 12 races.

The team is lagging behind fellow midfield teams, Renault, Haas F1, Force India, at the summer break. The disappointing results have led the team to end the tenure of important figures like Racing Director Eric Boullier and Chief Technical Officer Tim Goss. With the team in flux and a race win looking very distant, Alonso has decided to look for better prospects outside of F1 for 2019.

McLaren signs Carlos Sainz

The driver market for 2019 has been unusually fluid with big name moves like Daniel Ricciardo to Renault from Red Bull for next season. Only six drivers, Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo, and Nico Hulkenberg, are under contract for next season. All the other drivers are out of contract and yet to sign their contracts for 2019.

In the current scenario, Alonso’s decision not to drive in F1 next season and the poor performance so far of the other driver Stoffel Vandoorne prompted McLaren to sign Sainz immediately.

Zak Brown has made no secret that McLaren wanted to sign Ricciardo. But his decision to sign a multi-year deal with Renault for next season put him out of reach. It also meant there was no place for Sainz who was driving alongside Hulkenberg at Renault this season.

Red Bull needs a replacement for Ricciardo for 2019. But there were growing signs that the Milton Keynes-based team was reluctant to partner Sainz with Verstappen. The volatile relationship between Verstappen and Sainz’s side of the garage at Toro Rosso during the 2015 season seemed to act as a deterrent.

Given the fact that Red Bull seemed disinclined to re-sign Sainz, the Spaniard had to take the next best seat available. McLaren might also be thinking of replacing Vandoorne for next season. So they had to sign one of the best available drivers for one of the seats when Alonso made his announcement.

Both driver and team have moved quickly to sign a multi-year deal and McLaren officially confirmed the signing today. In Sainz they get one of the most promising and talented young drivers on the grid.

McLaren and Sainz are optimistic about the future

McLaren is a team in need of fresh blood on all fronts. This once marquee team has gone winless since the 2012 season. A major reshuffle is underway in the technical and management teams. James Key, currently Technical Director at Toro Rosso, is slated to join McLaren in the coming season.

McLaren CEO Zak Brown said: “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.”

Carlos Sainz on his signing with McLaren to replace his fellow Spaniard and idol Alonso said: “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.”

McLaren will hope that the new talent they are signing up for 2019 will help them slowly rebuild and reemerge as race winners. Sadly the Alonso chapter that started with so much hope in 2015 has come to an end for now. Hopefully, Sainz will be part of an exciting journey that returns McLaren to winning ways over the next few seasons.

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