Daniel Ricciardo has made the switch to McLaren to replace Carlos Sainz after Sainz officially signed to join Ferrari next year.
“McLaren announces that Daniel Ricciardo will race for the team alongside Lando Norris in the Formula One World Championship from 2021,” Ricciardo’s new team announced on Twitter on Thursday night (AEDT).
Ricciardo said that despite the switch, he will give it his all and finish off the year as best he can for Renault.
“I am so grateful for my time Renault F1 team and the way I was accepted into the team,” Ricciardo posted on Instagram. “But we aren’t done and I can’t wait to get back on the grid this year. My next chapter isn’t here yet, so let’s finish this one strong. Merci.”
“Daniel is a proven race-winner and his experience, commitment and energy will be a valuable addition to McLaren and our mission to return to the front of the field,” said McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl.
“With Daniel and Lando as teammates, I believe we have two racers who will continue to excite our fans and help the team grow.”
There has also been speculation that double champion Fernando Alonso, who left the Formula One in 2018, could make a shocking return to Renault, the team he won his titles with in 2005 and 2006.
“I see a scenario which is Sainz to Ferrari, Ricciardo to McLaren, and then that leaves a seat at Renault that probably would be Alonso,” said former F1 driver and Sky Sports television pundit Martin Brundle.
All the changes within the driving circle were started by Ferrari’s announcement that Sebastian Vettel would be leaving the team at the end of the year.
With retirement a potential possibility, Vettel’s career appears to be hanging in the balance.
“What’s been happening in these past few months has led many of us to reflect on what are our real priorities in life,” the German said in Ferrari’s statement.
With the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world, the Formula One is yet to start with lockdowns and drivers scattered around all different areas of the world.
Ricciardo has kept his options open since his move to Renault from Red Bull last season after knowing the French manufacturer would be a work in progress.
Ricciardo won seven grands prix with Red bull, but his best finish since moving to Renault has been fourth.
“Everyone knows how this sport works. If another team calls, I’m not going to block the call or anything. I’ll answer it and listen to what they have to say,” Ricciardo told Reuters in February.
With lockdowns around the world fully enforced and since the F1 season was suspended in March, Sainz is currently in Spain with his family while Ricciardo is on his family’s farm near Perth.
Sainz finished sixth overall last season, only behind the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Although Sainz finished third in Brazil last year and earnt McLaren its first podium finish since 2014, he is yet to win a Grand Prix of his own.