Carlos Sainz Jr. will replace two-time world champion Fernando Alonso at McLaren on a multi-year agreement starting next season, in the wake of his Spanish countryman’s decision to call time on his Formula 1 career.

With a replacement already confirmed only two days after Alonso’s announcement, McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown explained the Woking squad kept a watchful eye on the upcoming talent and had high expectations of its new signing.

“We’re incredibly excited to have Carlos join us as a McLaren driver,” Brown said on Thursday.

“We’ve been assessing him for some time now and rate him very highly among the next generation of young talent emerging through the ranks in Formula 1.”

“I’m delighted to finally be able to confirm that I’ll be a McLaren driver from the 2019 season,” added Sainz Jr.

“It’s something I’ve been looking at for a while and I’m very excited about this next chapter in my career. I’ve been a McLaren fan for as long as I can remember. It’s a great name in the sport with an incredible heritage, and the list of drivers that have raced for McLaren over the years are among the heroes of Formula 1.

“Fernando is of course one of them, so it’s particularly special that I’ll be taking his seat as part of the next generation of Spanish racing drivers behind the wheel of a McLaren.”

Sainz Jr. made his debut in the top tier of motorsport in 2015, graduating up the junior formulae ladder under the Red Bull Junior program. After three seasons at Scuderia Toro Rosso, he was loaned by Red Bull to rival outfit Renault for 2018 as part of a sweetheart deal negotiated to assist Toro Rorro’s early switch to Honda power unit supply.

Now that he is set to join McLaren, Sainz’s ties to Red Bull look to be broken as he embarks on a new journey with the multiple World Championship winning team.

“I’d like to thank everyone at McLaren for giving me this opportunity to fulfill a childhood dream. The team has a long-term plan for the future and I’m very much looking forward to playing a key role in its journey back to success,” he added.

“It’s fitting that [Carlos] will be stepping into [Fernando’s] seat as a Spaniard with a legendary name in motorsport,” furthered Brown. “We think he’ll be a great fit for McLaren and we’re really excited to have him join us from next season and beyond.”

McLaren’s 2019 driver line-up is still not complete with the team yet to confirm whether it will retain the services of Stoffel Vandoorne. The Belgian’s contract was extended into the 2018 season in August last year, but the former GP2 Series champion has had a very disappointing season and his future at the Woking team is far from safe.

Image via LAT

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Luke McCullough

Melbourne Based - 17 Grand Prix attendances and counting in Australia, Singapore, Canada, France, Austria and Great Britain.