In a surprising turn of events, reports have emerged that Carlos Sainz Jr has signed a deal with Renault for 2018. Sources say that Sainz’s deal was part of an attempt to get Renault to end their Toro Rosso contract early. With the Sainz deal done and dusted, it means that Toro Rosso are free to take on Honda as an engine supplier. This in turn allows McLaren to use Renault engines next season, and Alonso staying on in the team.
Although the provisional deal is for the Spaniard to join in 2018, some say that he could jump ship by Malaysia if Renault are dissatisfied with Jolyon Palmer’s performance. If the Sainz switch takes place in Malaysia, reserve driver Pierre Gasly could get a call up into Toro Rosso. There are also chances that all engine deals will be finalised by the time everyone gets to Singapore. Once the Toro Rosso-Honda deal is in place, only then will the McLaren-Renault go ahead.
With Renault possibly partnering with McLaren for the 2018 season, it may convince Fernando Alonso to remain with the Woking team.
Carlos Sainz Jr had made it quite clear that 3 seasons in the same team was quite enough. Although Red Bull contracted him for one more year in Toro Rosso, there was a clause that said that if a top team was interested, he would be released. When Renault approached Toro Rosso, they insisted that he was unavailable, but with the financial implications of a Honda deal, Renault have firmer ground to stand on.
However no one is sure if Sainz is still a Red Bull affiliated driver being loaned out to Renault or not.
Robert Kubica was a prime candidate for a seat at Renault alongside Hulkenberg. But with the signing of Sainz, his options are limited. However, there has been interest arising from the Williams Martini team who could possibly partner him with Stroll next season, should Massa hang up his boots, for good this time.