McLaren insists it isn’t interested in bringing Daniel Ricciardo on board early, rejecting any possibility of a driver swap in 2020.
The Aussie F1 star will leave Renault to join McLaren next season — one of several significant changes to hit the grid.
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Carlos Sainz is going from McLaren to Ferrari while Sebastian Vettel is leaving Ferrari for Racing Point, who has axed Sergio Perez.
There has been speculation some of the drivers might move to their new teams early to plan ahead for next year but McLaren has put that notion to bed.
McLaren is enjoying a stellar season, sitting third in the constructors’ championship behind Red Bull and Mercedes and team boss Zak Brown wants to keep Sainz around for the rest of 2020 to ensure continuity and maximise the outfit’s chances of success.
“We’re happy with our driver line-up this year,” Brown said. “We’re happy with everyone else’s driver line-up this year.
“I think we have two drivers that are doing an excellent job, and some other teams which have disruption in their garage.
“So I think I want to continue the harmonious relationship we have going on right now. And I think if we were to consider changing that, it would maybe only be to the benefit of other teams that are maybe a little bit more destabilised in the garage.”
For so long F1 has been dominated by Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari, with midfield teams like McLaren and Renault competing to be the best of the rest.
But that’s changed this year as the Prancing Horse — due largely to Vettel’s horror season and setbacks to young gun Charles Leclerc — suffers a fall from grace. The Scuderia is sixth in the constructors’ standings, paving the way for other teams to make their move.
McLaren will be hoping to improve even further in 2021 when Ricciardo joins the ranks after two disappointing seasons with Renault, who he teamed up with after quitting Red Bull at the end of 2018.
Brown is optimistic the new budget cap, slated for 2022, will level the playing field further by reducing the gap between the richest teams and the rest.
“Ultimately, our goal is to catch whoever is in first place and that’s been Mercedes for quite some time,” Brown said. “We’re certainly encouraged that we are now racing Ferrari because we weren’t last year and haven’t been for quite some time.
“While we want to catch the three teams that are in front of us now, or in this instance, currently two teams, I think we need to pay a lot of attention and recognise that teams four, five, six and even seven right now, are all going to be serious contenders when the budget cap comes in (in 2022).
“Everyone’s starting on a clean sheet of paper, which I think that then means we’re going to have an awesome era of Formula 1.”