With Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo joining Renault’s F1 team in 2019, Carlos Sainz Jr could emerge as a free agent, able to sign with whichever team has an open spot on its roster.
McLaren has yet to confirm either Alonso or Vandoorne for next year, the latter having a particularly disastrous first half of the season, having amassed just 8 total points. Alonso on the other hand has secured 44 points.
At the same time, Sainz could also find himself racing for Red Bull next year, although he would have to face competition from current Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly.
For McLaren however, Sainz is clearly an appealing option, as team boss Zak Brown pointed out even before Ricciardo’s shocking departure from Red Bull.
“We think Carlos is an excellent race car driver,” stated Brown during last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix. “Of course Carlos is potentially on the market, we don’t know his exact situation at Renault and Red Bull (Sainz is currently on loan from Red Bull), but he’s certainly someone that as you go down the shortlist of drivers you’d consider putting in a race car.”
“If he was free, and if we had a seat, he would certainly be high up on the consideration set.”
If however McLaren is unable to secure Sainz’s services, the team could still continue with either Vandoorne or reserve driver Lando Norris, alongside Alonso – unless the latter decides to quit Formula 1, reports Autosport.
“We do have a long-term agreement in place with Stoffel and Fernando, but as you can imagine in these contracts there’s a variety of elements to them,” added Brown. “We will make our driver decision ultimately when we’re ready. I anticipate that being some time after the summer break.”