News is coming out that Carlos Sainz has signed a deal to join Renault from 2018.
Sources are stating that the deal has been agreed as a sweetener for Renault to end its Toro Rosso contract early. This opens the way for the Italian team to take up an engine supply with Honda while also allowing Renault to supply engines to McLaren.
With multiple meetings having taken place over the past weeks and months, including over the Italian GP weekend where Renault executives were seen in the McLaren motorhome, the news is not exactly unexpected. But for Sainz to be the first to move in the jigsaw the following pieces should now fall into place pretty quickly.
The news of the Spaniard moving to the French team should also see Fernando Alonso staying with McLaren with the former World Champion having been very vocal about the Japanese engine supplier over the past few years.
The move also means the end of a race seat at Renault for Jolyon Palmer. The Brit has struggled in Formula One since his debut last year and it has been expected he would be moved on for next year. But more rumours suggest that Sainz might even move before the end of the year should Renault feel the need to, thus giving them two promising young drivers in Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg.
This could then see Pierre Gasly, currently Red Bull reserve driver, getting a call up as he looks to cement a race seat for next year. We all know that the paddock love a rumour and there is suggestions that Honda Junior driver Nobuharu Matsushita might even be in contention for a STR race seat in 2018. Matsushita is currently a McLaren development driver but with Honda now going he is likely to go with them.
Toro Rosso are also likely to take a supply of McLaren’s gearboxes that they developed to run with the Japanese power unit, thus making for a more simple transfer.
The long running saga would seem to be reaching its end game now. It will be interesting to see if the Sainz deal is permanent or if Red Bull hold an option on the promising Spaniard considering the contracts of Verstappen and Ricciardo due up within the next few years. All going well everything is expected to be announced before Singapore next week.