Carlos Sainz has signed a contract to join Renault, according to the website Motorsport. This deal is part of a four party talks and agreements between Toro Rosso, McLaren, Honda and Renault.
Sainz’s deal is the first part of the Domino effect which will see Renault switch engine supply from Toro Rosso to McLaren from 2018. Honda will supply engine to Toro Rosso and also contribute to their budget starting next year.
According to highly placed sources, Sainz deal was the convincer for Renault to agree to release engine supply to the Junior Red Bull team and offer it to McLaren.
Now that the Sainz deal is completed Toro Rosso can confirm switching to Honda power next year so that McLaren will be free to complete a deal with Renault.
Renault has been interested in Sainz for a while but their enquiry was not entertained by Christian Horner. During the discussion between the four parties after the Monza race, the Spaniard emerged as the key part of a deal that could pass.
Renault was seeking an incentive to agree to the switch, and they played the Sainz card. In Sainz, they find a promising youngster who can partner up with Nico Hulkenberg and move the French team ahead in the grid
The provisional deal is for 2018 but if the French team wants, they can deploy Sainz as early as Malaysian Grand Prix if they decide not to use Jolyon Palmer.
If Sainz moves to Renault for Sepang, reserve driver Pierre Gasly might be called to drive with Daniil Kvyat for the Malaysian GP.
Toro Rosso has taken no firm decisions on Sainz’s replacement for next year. Rumours from the paddock point to Honda junior driver Nobuharu Matsushita as a probable contender once he is released from McLaren as the development driver.
Matsushita will have to close his F2 campaign with a strong win to be able to get his superlicense to step up to F1.
It is believed that all deals will be done by end of this week so that announcements can be done before the Singapore GP. This will also give Alonso the chance to extend his deal with McLaren as Honda was one of his main sticky problems.