Fernando Alonso has announced his retirement from Formula One today, blowing the driver market further open following Daniel Ricciardo’s switch to Renault announcement.
Now the big question for McLaren is who replaced the Spaniard at Woking so here is a rundown of potential candidates.
McLaren reserve, Lando Norris surely is a serious contender after delivering consistent performances in Formula Two this season.
At recent in season test, Norris spent both days in cars which further heightens his chances after producing a pair of strong results, faster than Vandoorne’s Friday times from Hungarian GP weekend.
The Brit also has a clause which McLaren must activate by October if they want to keep hold of their rising star.
He therefore would be the easiest replacement and is a promotion from within, especially if Vandoorne stays.
Currently linked with Red Bull, Carlos Sainz could be a serious option if he becomes available.
Already a proven F1 talent under Renault power across his time at Toro Rosso and Renault, Sainz definitely will be looking for a top drive which McLaren could offer in long run.
McLaren however has a fairly eventful relationship with Spanish drivers. Remember 2007’s Spygate then the Honda debacle?
Admittedly both came in each of Alonso’s stints so Zak Brown and co will be hoping that Sainz is more of a Pedro de La Rosa who can do a consistent job with the car.
Of course, Sainz’s future hinges on who Red Bull decide to promote to partner Max Verstappen next season.
As a Renault customer, McLaren could very well be offered one of Renault’s reserve drivers in exchange for cheaper power units, with Artem Markelov being the likely carrot dangled to them.
After five seasons in F1’s support series, Markelov is definitely ready for F1 despite being known for his unbelievable driving.
Using him in a power unit deal therefore would be a win-win situation for McLaren because they could give Norris another season elsewhere if feel he isn’t ready for F1 and get a cheaper power unit deal with talented driver thrown in.
If not seen other articles featuring Markelov, here is a taste of what he could offer McLaren and F1 if given the right car.
Now that is one of the many things that Markelov will offer on top of excellent tyre management and other stuff.
- Esteban Ocon – Looks likely to leave Force India at end of season but is a strong talent who deserves a F1 seat next season.
- Romain Grosjean – Although Haas are set to retain him and Kevin Magnussen, he might a decent punt if Haas gets Charles Leclerc next season.
- Kimi Raikkonen – Rumours suggest he be staying at Ferrari but if Leclerc ends up in Scuderia, Kimi surely would be open to doing an Alonso and having a last hurrah at McLaren.