This deal does not come as much of a shock, as it was rumoured that Sainz would be driving for the McLaren team well before Fernando Alonso announced his retirement on Tuesday. However, we now know that Carlos will in-fact be replacing his idol at the Woking team. There have been many critics of Sainz in the circles I communicate in. Saying he is nothing special. But I don't think his record is quite so easily judged as that. As this post is merely confirming a deal we all thought would happen for a while, I will keep this short in examining why it could be good for both parties. Driver and team.
Sainz Vs Verstappen Vs Kvyat
For me, those who say Sainz is no world beater do have a case to be made. A case that he, over the next few years must work hard to disprove. People clearly haven't forgotten his performance against the so called "wonderboy" of the grid. Max Verstappen. Despite starting off the season beating the inexperienced Dutch Rookie, he was roundly trounced in the latter half of 2015 season. In the 10 races from the Hungarian Grand Prix onward, Verstappen finished in the points eight times—including a string of six consecutive top 10s—to finish the year 11th in the drivers' standings with an impressive total of 49 points. Sainz only managed three additional points finishes in the second half of the year, taking his points tally to just 18. Yet...it is not all doom and gloom for the new McLaren man.
His record against Daniil Kyvat, who was at one point considered the future of Red-Bull, is exemplary. In the time they shared a car (from Russia 2016 to Japan 2017) after the Russian was unceremoniously demoted from Red-Bull, Sainz rounded a total of 17 point scoring finishes (earning a move to Renault) compared to Kvyat's measly 5. Whilst many say Daniil had been long broken by F1 at this point, it is hard to deny that beating (annihilating) a man who bested Sainz' own Renault replacement (Ricciardo) during their first season together at Red-Bull is a bad record. Many argue, on that premise, that Sainz is hard-done by not being selected for the upcoming vacant Red-Bull seat in 2019.
In short there are FAR worse drivers that McLaren, given their current predicament could have in their seat. At one point Sainz was even being touted as a possible Ferrari driver. People are quick to lose sight of class in F1, choosing current form instead. Sainz is a good option especially due to...
It has often been reported that Alonso's wages at McLaren were simply huge. Whilst developing a new car and engine is simply a seismic amount of money, the $40 million a year that McLaren were paying Fernando is no chump change either! With all the new funds being freed for the orange team (instead replaced by Sainz who will cost CONSIDERABLY less) then might we see an upturn in form?
Simply put, I recently posted a fun little article about my "dream" F1 2019 grid...and whilst all of that will, predictably not come to pass, it did hold a question that I still consider valuable:
"With the departure of Fernando Alonso and his huge wage, the once-ever-so-mighty McLaren have suddenly seen a world of funding options open up to them. The question is, given departure of Eric Boullier & other key members, can they turn cash to the competitiveness they've been so lacking?"
A Fun Little End-Note
Now, how is this for a fun little fact? Carlos Sainz' career has followed EXACTLY the same path that his idol (and the previous occupant of his seat) followed. First Alonso raced for Minardi, then for Renault and then (following two world titles) for McLaren...Sainz? Well Toro Rosso (who he debuted for) TOOK OVER Minardi in 2005 and operate out of the same base...then Carlos moved to Renault...then finally he took his place at McLaren. I wonder if he will last for more than one year there! Or whether he will fall out hugely with his new team-mate and find a way back to Renault? Maybe that Ferrari drive will surface at some point just like it did for Alonso? Only time will tell....