Carlos Sainz has emerged as the favorite to replace Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari, with a deal potentially being finalized as early as this week.
Following Tuesday’s announcement that Vettel and Ferrari failed to agree on a new contract for the four-time world champion – a development that will end his relationship with the team at the end of the season – multiple sources have indicated to RACER that a move for Sainz is already well advanced.
The Spaniard impressed in his first season at McLaren last year, finishing sixth in the drivers’ championship – one position behind Vettel, and ahead of Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon who shared the Red Bull seat.
Sainz is out of contract at the end of 2020, making him one of the obvious targets for Ferrari. If he does leave McLaren for Maranello, another driver on the Ferrari shortlist – Daniel Ricciardo – is believed to be one of the preferred options to replace him. Ricciardo came close to joining McLaren in the summer of 2018 when leaving Red Bull, but instead opted for Renault. At the time, he felt it was going to take the Woking outfit too long to return to contention at the front of the field.
2019 will have gone a long way to allaying those fears, with McLaren comfortably beating Renault to fourth in the constructors’ championship, and Sainz picking up a maiden podium finish in the Brazilian Grand Prix. McLaren will also switch from Renault to Mercedes power units in 2021, despite the introduction of new technical regulations being pushed back to the following year.
Like Sainz, Ricciardo is also out of contract at the end of the season. The Australian has been keen to keep his options open as both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are also in the final year of their respective deals at Mercedes.