Daniel Ricciardo’s deal with Renault announced last week had a big impact on the drivers market. As it was mentioned before Dan has held the key indeed: his move created a vacant seat in his, now almost former, Red Bull team and also made Carlos Sainz free of his place in Renault.
It has triggered a chain of further rumors and events that happened during the summer break – which team will Sainz drive for next season? In particular, can it be McLaren? And if it will be McLaren, whose seat will Carlos occupy?
Let’s inspect the questions in details.
The answer to the first question has a several options and contains an answer to the second one. Of course McLaren has its own position in the list of these options, moreover, both the young Spanish driver and the team’s boss Zak Brown confirmed the interest to each other as an employee and employer.
“We think Carlos is an excellent race car driver,” said Brown in Hungary. “If he was free, and if we had a seat, he would certainly be high up on the consideration set.”
It’s no secret that Carlos’ childhood idol was Fernando Alonso, he has mentioned it many times, and now an opportunity to drive against Fernando seems a new exciting challenge for him:
“Probably Fernando would be the biggest ask that you could have on the grid, that’s for sure” he said. However, being asked straightly if the rumors linking him to McLaren was true, Sainz has replied with the common phrase “I cannot comment on it”, which surely led us to some thoughts.
If Sainz moves to Mclaren.
Well, let’s consider him as a part of the team from Woking already. In this case we’ll have to think about the third question: will it be Alonso leaving the team at the end of 2018, or will it be Vandoorne?
Actually, it can be both of them.
Alonso-Sainz or Sainz-Vandoorne
Fernando Alonso’s interest in IndyCar is pretty obvious and unhidden, as he has won the Monaco GP, 24 hours of Le Mans and now has only one step left to gain a Triple Crown. At the same time, his teammate’s results in F1 are quite poor in comparison, qualifying statistics is 0-12 in favor of the Spaniard, and race statistics is not so much better as well. The conclusion we can make from this is that we have two possible line-ups:
- Most likely – Alonso staying in F1 for one or two more years, waiting for a progress and having Sainz as his teammate, Vandoorne leaving the team, unable to show his potential
- Vandoorne staying and partnering Sainz as Alonso leaves F1 for another racing category. This option is a less possible one, as Zak Brown rejected the “young driver – young driver” pair lately:
“It's also about the package – experience and youth – especially in the situation we're in” he said. “Because we're rebuilding, to have two young drivers in our car wouldn't be a great place to be. If we had a better racecar then you might take a risk with two younger drivers because you've given them good racecars.”
Raikkonen-Sainz or Sainz-Norris
The most fantastic scenario in my opinion is where McLaren has a brand new pair of drivers. Kimi Raikkonen, who has no contract with Ferrari for the next season at the moment, potentially will be a better candidate than McLaren’s reserve driver Lando Norris, considering Brown’s statement about two young drivers in a team.
But, after Ferrari’s CEO Sergio Marchionne’s untimely death the rumors about Kimi staying for a one more year began to spread. If it’s true, then neither Raikkonen-Sainz nor Sainz-Norris line-ups are possible.
If Sainz moves to any other team.
In that case the team from Woking has a following list to choose:
Alonso-Vandoorne.The season is not over yet, Stoffel still has an opportunity to make his best to save his place as Zak Brown and FernandoAlonso show him their support.
Alonso-Norris.In case the team bosses still won’t be satisfied with Stoffel’s performance they could give a chance to young and promising Lando Norris.
Both of the two last options should consider Kimi’ surprising return to McLaren, which in my opinion is barely a real thing.