Formula 1: Sainz replacing Vettel at Ferrari in 2021; Ricciardo moves to replace Sainz at McLaren

The 2020 Formula 1 season hasn’t even started yet, and both Ferrari and McLaren have new drivers for the 2021 season.

Ferrari announced earlier in the week that four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel would not return to the team in 2021 after the expiration of his contract. Thursday, Ferrari announced that McLaren’s Carlos Sainz would replace Vettel and team with Charles LeClerc.

Not long after Sainz’s departure was made official, McLaren announced that it had signed Daniel Ricciardo to replace Sainz. Ferrari then confirmed that Sainz was joining the team.

Sainz has been in Formula 1 since the 2015 season. He spent most of the first three years of his career at Toro Rosso before moving to Renault late in the 2017 season. He wasn’t at Renault for long and moved to McLaren in 2019.

His first season at McLaren was the best of his career. He finished sixth in the points standings and was the top driver who didn’t drive for Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull Racing.

Sainz’s performance was boosted by McLaren’s surge. The team had struggled ever since Lewis Hamilton left for Mercedes and finally figured things out in 2019. Teammate Lando Norris was 11th in the standings as McLaren was the clear No. 4 team in the series.

Renault had designs on being in the spot McLaren occupied. That’s why it went out and signed Ricciardo from Red Bull in a big-money deal ahead of the 2019 season.

Instead, the team’s season was a disaster. Ricciardo was ninth in the standings and had four DNFs. McLaren was clearly the faster team and that played into Ricciardo’s decision to move on from Renault after just one completed season.

The 2020 F1 season has no projected start date, though the series has said it wants to begin over the summer at some point in Europe. The cancellation of the Monaco Grand Prix and the postponement of the Indianapolis 500 to August means that the traditional Memorial Day Sunday full of racing on May 24 will include just NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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