Two days after it was announced Sebastian Vettel would be leaving Ferrari at the end of 2020, the Italian team have confirmed Carlos Sainz as Charles Leclerc’s new team mate from 2021 onwards.
Sainz, 25, will join the Italian squad on a two-year deal after two seasons at McLaren, creating the youngest driver pairing in Ferrari’s recent history in the process.
The news follows the confirmation earlier on Thursday that Daniel Ricciardo will leave Renault to replace Sainz at McLaren for 2021.
“I am very happy that I will be driving for Scuderia Ferrari in 2021 and I’m excited about my future with the team,” said Sainz. “I still have an important year ahead with McLaren Racing and I’m really looking forward to going racing again with them this season.”
2021 will mark the first time since 2007 that Ferrari have not had a current or previous world champion amongst their ranks – unless of course Leclerc wins the 2020 title. However, team principal Mattia Binotto was quick to underline Sainz’s experience.
“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.”
Sainz’s appointment at Ferrari follows a strong year for the Spaniard in 2019 in which he placed a career-best sixth in the drivers’ standings – the highest of any driver outside the established big three of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.
Sainz also added a first career podium to his CV, taking third place in Brazil to give McLaren their first silverware since 2014.
Intriguingly, a move to Ferrari will mean Sainz’s career path follows that of his childhood hero Fernando Alonso, with both having started at same team (Minardi in Alonso’s case, which morphed into the Toro Rosso squad Sainz debuted for in 2014) before progressing to Renault, McLaren and then Ferrari.