F1 briefing: Alonso backs Sainz, Gasly to replace Ricciardo

McLaren’s future looks bright says outgoing driver as Red Bull line up replacement

Carlos Sainz Jr F1 2019
Spaniard Carlos Sainz Jr has been driving for Renault this season, on loan from Red Bull 
(Image credit: Andrej Isakovic/AFP/Getty Images)

Alonso tips Sainz to succeed at McLaren

New McLaren driver Carlos Sainz has what it takes to lead the team to success next year and beyond, says Fernando Alonso.

Alonso announced earlier this month that he was leaving F1 at the end of the season and McLaren acted fast to sign up Sainz as his replacement.

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At the weekend, former world champion Alonso said he was confident McLaren could overcome their recent problems and move forward with Sainz – and his current team mate Stoffel Vandoorne – in the cockpit.

“The problems with the car have been identified for some months now even though many of the solutions cannot be applied now because the 2018 design is done,” he said.

“But... in 2019 it could look completely different. I think it could be a better year and Carlos has the experience and ability to lead such a project.

“He is still young and has not been in F1 for many years, but he still has enough experience from Toro Rosso and Renault. That mix could work very well for McLaren.”

McLaren forced to sweeten Key deal

After announcing the signing of James Key as technical director, McLaren may have to “sweeten the deal” with Toro Rosso to ensure that he can start work sooner than 2021, reports Sky Sports.

“McLaren confirmed the signing of highly-respected technical guru Key ahead of last month’s Hungarian GP, though Toro Rosso insisted the Englishman had a contract, believed to be until 2020, to respect," says Sky.

“[Team principal Zak] Brown stated McLaren would consider their options with regards to a compensation agreement with Toro Rosso in a bid to secure Key’s arrival earlier, potentially involving a financial settlement or using a driver as a makeweight.”

Gasly set to replace Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo’s shock decision to quit Red Bull for Renault next season has prompted speculation over who would replace him. Frenchman Pierre Gasly now seems to be in line for promotion from Toro Rosso.

“Pierre Gasly appears to be the standalone candidate to replace Daniel Ricciardo after Carlos Sainz was confirmed at McLaren last week,” reports ESPN. “Gasly has shown brilliant flashes during what is his first full F1 season. Red Bull was caught off-guard by Ricciardo’s decision to switch to Renault next season and would have preferred another season (at least) for Gasly at the junior squad. However, his experiences this year with the Honda power unit will likely be invaluable for the senior team ahead of its own switch to that engine next season.”

Stroll hits back at critics

Williams driver Lance Stroll has retaliated after being criticised for some of the team’s poor performances this season.

“Williams has finished in the top five of the constructors’ championship for the past four seasons but is enduring a painful performance deficit this year and is last place with just four points, scored by Stroll in Azerbaijan,” reports Autosport.

Stroll, who has been under scrutiny due to his father’s wealth, said: “There are so many engineers and people in F1 who impact the car, I think the drivers are the easy ones to blame but if you had an experienced driver you’d find something else to blame.”

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