THE Formula 1 chess game has started early, with a trio of top drivers and teams already announcing moves for the 2021 season — despite the fact there has not yet been any races run in 2020.

Ferrari has announced that McLaren driver Carlos Sainz will be the replacement for Sebastian Vettel, who recently let it be known he’d be getting off the prancing horse at the end of 2020.

Where will he go?

Maybe he’ll just retire, but there are are whispers that he might step down to another team.

Haas gets an occasional mention.

Sainz has signed a two-year contract with Ferrari where he will be teammate to Monaco-born star Charles Leclerc.

The Spanish driver finished 6th in the 2019 Drivers’ Championship.

And now Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo has revealed he’ll slip into the McLaren seat that Sainz will vacate at the end of the year.

But he’s still full of praise for his current Renault team and said he’d be doing his best at the wheel of the underperforming machine until Christmas.

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Ferrari F1 team principal Mattia Binotto described Sainz as ‘an ideal fit with our family.’

‘With five seasons already behind him, Carlos has proved to be very talented and has shown that he has the technical ability and the right attributes,’ he said.

Andreas Seidl, team principal of McLaren F1, said Ricciardo’s proven performance, commitment and energy would be a valuable addition to the team and help steer it back to the front of the field.

The Perth driver will partner promising young Brit Lando Norris, who has been with McLaren since last season.

So who will move into the honey badger’s seat at Renault?

The rumour mill has suggested Vettel might be the one, but another possibility is that Fernando Alonso might come out of retirement to join the French squad.

After all, he won both of his Drivers’ Championship titles with Renault.

Ricciardo, who has seven wins under his belt and has twice finished third in the Drivers’ Championship, left Red Bull Racing at the start of 2019 to join Renault

It is known he’d had talks with McLaren before signing with Renault, so his move to McLaren isn’t surprising.

Maybe a critical factor was that McLaren will switch from Renault to Mercedes-AMG power for the 2021 season?

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Buys

Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.
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