Carlos Sainz to Ferrari, Daniel Ricciardo to McLaren: Martin Brundle's verdict on F1's big moves
Sky F1's Martin Brundle on why Ferrari have gone for Sainz, why a Hamilton-Ferrari link-up could now be off the table, and why McLaren might feel they have an upgrade in Ricciardo...
Last Updated: 15/05/20 6:02am
Have Ferrari made the right move by signing Carlos Sainz? Is this the end of talk of Lewis Hamilton finishing his Formula 1 career in red? And have McLaren made an upgrade by bringing in Daniel Ricciardo?
After a bumper day in the driver market with both Sainz and Ricciardo's big 2021 deals confirmed, Sky F1's Martin Brundle gives his verdict...
- Ferrari sign Sainz to replace Vettel
- Ricciardo joins McLaren for 2021
- Do Sainz, Ricciardo moves make sense?
Sainz to Ferrari: F1's most-famous team opt for youth
Sainz to Ferrari was the headline news on Thursday, and certainly wasn't a pairing you could have predicted at the start of a whirlwind week in F1.
The Spaniard, 25, has big shoes to fill with four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel on his way out, but Brundle is backing him to succeed.
"It's a no-brainer for Carlos Sainz to want to go to Ferrari at this stage in his career," Brundle, in an interview with Sky Sports News' Craig Slater, stated.
"He's got quite a lot of experience despite his tender years, and I think it's a really good match with Charles Leclerc. It's a very dynamic, young duo and it is something to build on for the future.
"For me, Sainz is the team-mate who has pushed Max Verstappen hardest so far in Formula 1 [at Toro Rosso in 2015]."
As well as plenty of talent, Ferrari may feel Sainz also brings less confrontation for Leclerc - their new de-facto number one.
"Somebody at Ferrari must think, 'I do not want to see my two cars running into each other again' - as we saw in Brazil," added Brundle. " I'm sure they can control Sainz better like that."
Ferrari will have their youngest driver line-up in more than 50 years next season and F1's most famous and successful team are now "rebuilding", according to Brundle.
"[But] even if it takes two or three years [to challenge for titles], Sainz can afford that. Sebastian couldn't afford that time, he'd lost his mojo with the team and a little bit of belief - and vice-versa I think which is why they've parted company.
"If I was in Sainz's position I wouldn't have hesitated to take this opportunity. You have to take it with a team like Ferrari knocking on your door."
Why not Hamilton? Is a Ferrari move now off the table?
Hamilton to Ferrari has been mooted for some time, yet even after Vettel confirmed his exit, it was never really a possibility for 2021.
Did it make sense for either party?
"Lewis made it clear in interviews we'd done, conversations we had with him, that his future [was with Mercedes]," said Brundle.
"They're still going to be the team to beat and he's still going to be the man to beat through this shortened season.
"It would be electric to see Hamilton in a Ferrari, but I don't think it would suit Lewis right now. He's 35 years old, and we're talking about young guns in their early 20s that Ferrari are focusing on.
"I don't necessarily think Ferrari wanted to pair up Leclerc with Hamilton."
Will Hamilton, whose Mercedes contract expires at the end of 2020, ever race in F1's famous red?
"Not now I don't think. But never say never - this is a strange old business."
Ricciardo to McLaren: Renault stay comes to an end
It wasn't long ago that Ricciardo was F1's hottest out-of-contract property.
However, after a left-field switch from Red Bull to Renault for 2019 he will now be on the move again, taking Sainz's place at McLaren from 2021.
"He hasn't enjoyed it there [at Renault]," Brundle explained. "I barely remember seeing Daniel through last season. We used to see him all the time with that big flip-flop smile but for some reason it just didn't work for him there.
"The car didn't play on his speciality of last of the late-brakers.
"Maybe he fancies more that the McLaren and the incoming Mercedes engine [will be competitive], maybe he's concerned about where Renault will be in the future.
"It's a bit of a sideways move but Daniel has obviously seen something at Renault that doesn't fill him with confidence into the future."
But will McLaren be happy with their side of the deal - losing Sainz but gaining a seven-time race-winner in Ricciardo?
"Daniel brings more experience and obviously a lot more race wins to McLaren. McLaren are probably thinking they've had a net gain depending on what they have to pay him.
"It'll certainly be the giggling team with Daniel and Lando Norris!"
What now for Renault... and Vettel?
Renault were left as the odd one out from F1's merry-go-round, with the French team not yet confirming who will replace Ricciardo. Although some big drivers have been linked.
"I do know Sebastian [Vettel] was talking to at least one team, so clearly retirement is not absolutely on his mind," said Brundle, who earlier this week stated there was a "good chance" Vettel would retire from F1.
"He's got to have a chance at Renault if he wants, that's a works team. But you'd worry going into the future. Renault will be lone rangers, they'll be the only people using Renault engines as of 2021.
"I think Alonso is desperate to get back into Formula 1, he'll be throwing his hat in the ring somewhere. Could it be a third trip to Renault for him?
"If I had to be money on it right now I think it might be Sebastian's swansong, but we don't know, and he's still got great speed. It depends how much money Renault have got to spend, and where Formula 1 finds itself after these difficult times."
But Brundle also believes Vettel will come out firing in 2020 at Ferrari.
"Expect to see a very feisty and fast Sebastian Vettel - I wouldn't underestimate him at all.
"He'll be racing for Seb, I don't think he'll be paying too much attention to what's going on around him and he certainly won't care too much for Charles Leclerc's ambitions."
And why all these deals are interesting for F1 2020...
"It's so bizarre where we're announcing so many 2021 drivers and we haven't even started 2020 yet," added Brundle. "There's a lot of racing to go in your existing team.
"Can you imagine how many team orders Vettel is going to pay attention to this year? He wasn't interested last year and now he's leaving the team.
"Sainz could be wheel-to-wheel with a Ferrari and they make contact, or Ricciardo could be wheel-to-wheel with a McLaren and crash.
"There's going to be some strange stories going on well before they do finally make these moves we're talking about today."