Carlos Sainz has been announced as a Ferrari driver for the 2021 season as he replaces the outbound Sebastian Vettel at the Italian team.
Ferrari announced on Tuesday it had “jointly agreed” to part way with Vettel at the end of this season, opening up a vacancy alongside Charles Leclerc.
A handful of drivers including Daniel Ricciardo and Antonio Giovinazzi were considered for the seat, but Sainz was Ferrari’s first choice after a stellar first season at McLaren in 2019.
The Spaniard finished a career-best sixth in the standings and claimed the team’s first podium in five years with a drive from the back of the grid to third at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Sainz rose through the Red Bull junior programme before debuting with Toro Rosso in 2015. Following a stop-gap year at Renault in 2018, Sainz chose to walk away from Red Bull and replaced compatriot Fernando Alonso at McLaren, guiding the British outfit to fourth place in the constructors’ championship.
“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, who signed a two-year deal at Maranello.
“I still have an important year ahead with McLaren Racing and I’m really looking forward to going racing again with them this season.”
Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto commented: “I’m pleased to announce that Carlos will join Scuderia Ferrari as from the 2021 championship.
“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 arrival has paved way for Daniel Ricciardo to take his seat at McLaren alongside Lando Norris after an agreement could not reached with Renault to extend his contract.
With a combined age of just 47, Sainz and Leclerc make up Ferrari’s youngest driver line-up in over 50 years.