McLaren will announce Carlos Sainz as Fernando Alonso’s replacement later this week, ESPN announced.
Yesterday Mclaren confirmed that Alonso will not continue in F1 in 2019, ending months of speculation about his future. This will open the door for Pierre Gasly to step up to Red Bull next year and to be a partner to Verstappen.
McLaren had been making contingency plans for Alonso’s departure and was in talks with Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo about a 2019 seat. The Ricciardo talks were unsuccessful and earlier this month the Australian announced his move to Renault for next year.
Carlos had been at Renault this year on loan from Red Bull. He was unable to secure a step up to the senior team from Toro Rosso. Ricciardo’s imminent departure meant Sainz and Gasly were the favourites to fill the void.
Sources have told ESPN Sainz will be confirmed on a two-year deal at McLaren on Thursday.
It means Gasly looks set to be the man to make the jump and partner Max Verstappen in 2019.
The identity of Sainz’s teammate remains unclear. If Mclaren dropped Stoffel Vandoorne, junior driver Lando Norris would be a candidate. In the hours after the Alonso news, Norris tweeted a gif with the word: “Interesting”.
However, the Ricciardo switch has blown the driver market wide open, as has Lawrence Stroll’s recent acquisition of Force India and the likely move his son Lance will make from Williams to that team next season. That will leave either Esteban Ocon or Sergio Perez looking for a race seat elsewhere next season.