The F1 world is looking a whole lot different as dominoes have tumbled on a massive day of moves in the sport.
While the script played out as expected with Daniel Ricciardo announcing a move from Renault to McLaren before Carlos Sainz Jr. was revealed to be going from McLaren to Ferrari, it’s a massive confirmation that has the F1 world desperate for the 2021 season.
With Ricciardo joining young gun Lando Norris at a team that came on leaps and bounds in 2019, and 25-year-old Sainz going into one of the most coveted seats in the sport alongside golden boy Charles Leclerc, they are exciting moves.
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Things move quickly in Formula One after Sebastian Vettel became the first domino to fall, announcing he would be walking away from Ferrari at the end of the 2020 season earlier this week.
Vettel is reportedly interested in two options with the German looking for either a Mercedes move or retirement. Both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are both off contract at the end of 2020.
But Racing Point’s Sergio Perez told Motorsport.com that Vettel was “closer to retirement than another team”.
Here’s how the world saw the twin announcements.
RICCIARDO TO MCLAREN
Setting up arguably the most fun pairing on the grid, fans are excited about the prospect of Ricciardo and Norris.
It’s a prospect that has fans salivating over the line up with the pair already sharing plenty of laughs and proving to be two of the more popular drivers with their antics.
The pair have been trolling and teasing each other since Norris joined Formula One last season.
This included a press conference last season when Ricciardo left Norris crying tears of laughter.
Sky Sports F1 commentator Martin Brundle believes while Ricciardo could have been a fit for Ferrari as well, he just needed to move on from Renault.
“Daniel has parked himself at Renault and I don’t feel he’s ever really looked happy there. It hasn’t fitted,” he said. “I don’t think it’s what he wanted, he took a bit of flak for it, and he would be a perfect fit for Ferrari as well I believe. I’m sure they’ve considered all options.
“But, equally, a McLaren with a Mercedes engine for 2021, they’ll make him feel loved there, they’ll make him feel important, and he’s still got it. He’s got the speed, he’s got the race craft, he’s very experienced.
“He hasn’t enjoyed it there (at Renault). I barely remember seeing Daniel through last season. We used to see him all the time with that big flip-flop smile but for some reason it just didn’t work for him there.
“The car didn’t play on his speciality of last of the late-brakers.
“It’s a bit of a sideways move but Daniel has obviously seen something at Renault that doesn’t fill him with confidence into the future.”
Fellow Sky commentator David Croft believes Ricciardo should have gone earlier, when McLaren CEO Zak Brown offered him a contract before he went to Renault, and the partnership simply hasn’t worked.
“This time around I can’t see Daniel saying no if that offer is made. The Renault adventure just hasn’t worked,” Croft said. “Financially it has but for no other reason will he be smiling at the moment. He wants to get back to having the opportunity to win races.
“Mercedes have probably still got the best engine in Formula 1, even though it’s a lot closer than it used to be. McLaren have got great resources and are a fantastic team.”
Writing for F1.com, Lawrence Barretto said “ultimately, Renault didn’t deliver what Ricciardo had expected in his first season with the team, the black and yellow cars going backwards in the pecking order” while McLaren out-performed the French team to become the best of the midfield teams, making them a more appealing destination.
“Ricciardo was left with a choice. Wait until the racing starts and see if Renault were a step forward in reality, or head to a team he knows really want him and are already showing they’re on the move,” Barretto wrote.
“Ultimately, Ricciardo couldn’t afford to take another risk on Renault, despite them being a manufacturer with a healthy budget and impressive facility. In his mind, that could be the end of the line for him in F1. He realised this could be his last big move.”
Former F1 driver Giedo van der Garde immediately put his hand up to be the third driver at McLaren as fans welcomed Ricciardo’s move.
SAINZ TO FERRARI
An open seat at Ferrari was always going to be a hot commodity and Sainz has definitely benefited from a stunning season in 2019.
Consistent throughout the season, he finished sixth overall, including third at the Brazilian Grand Prix, McLaren’s first podium since 2014.
It was also Sainz’s first podium in 101 races but his driving had been exceptional to make McLaren the “best of the rest”, a long way ahead of Renault in fifth.
“I am very happy that I will be driving for Scuderia Ferrari in 2021 and I’m excited about my future with the team,” Sainz said.
Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto added: “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.”
Croft believes the Spaniard will suit the prancing horse better than Ricciardo.
“He’s (Sainz) a very mature, very accomplished, very proficient driver,” Croft said. “If you want to go for someone who is going to be there to win races if Leclerc has a bad day, then Sainz is that man. He will win multiple races because he is talented enough to do so.
“He suits that Ferrari mould more than Daniel Ricciardo, who is a bit more of a free spirit.”
At 30, Ricciardo is one of the older driver’s on the grid and has continue to say he wants to be world champion before his retirement. But it may have been an issue as Leclerc appeared to overtake the number one driver position last year with two wins and seven pole positions last season.
But despite coming into the team as the second driver, fans believe Sainz could potentially threaten Leclerc’s position while others think it’s a stopgap until Mick Schumcacher forces his way into F1.
But iNews chief sports correspondent Kevin Garside believes the move heading back to the Schumacher days of clause to play second fiddle.
Former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan revealed recently that there was “a clause there that they always had to play second-fiddle” to Schumacher.
“With the departure of Sebastian Vettel and the impending arrival of Carlos Sainz Jr, Ferrari have returned to the Michael Schumacher model,” Garside wrote. “Winning is hard enough in Formula One without the added complication of unrequited ambition. No matter how he dresses this up, Sainz is coming to the Ferrari party as Charles Leclerc’s plus one.”