Ferrari has reportedly lined up Carlos Sainz to be Sebastian Vettel’s replacement and the move could be announced within days.

Wide-ranging reports across Italian, Spanish and German media outlets on Tuesday evening suggest that Sainz is to be named as a Ferrari driver within the next 48 hours, with the Scuderia opting for the Spaniard over Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo.

On Tuesday Ferrari announced Vettel’s departure from Maranello at the end of the 2020 F1 season after the German rejected a one-year contract extension on a significantly reduced salary.

Why is Sebastian Vettel leaving Ferrari? |

Ferrari have moved quickly to find a successor and it appears that Sainz has won the battle over the other rumoured candidates. It is understood that only small details remain to be agreed before Sainz’s switch to Ferrari is made official.

The Italian squad reportedly views Sainz as the ideal driver to partner Charles Leclerc as he would be more willing to play a supporting role if required and also demands less money, an important factor amid the financial uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 crisis after Ferrari revealed the extent of its loss in revenue last week.

The 25-year-old impressed as one of the standout performers during the 2019 season as he secured a career-best sixth-place in the drivers’ standings and helped McLaren claim fourth in the constructors’ championship.

Sainz’s exit would act as a big blow to McLaren, with the Woking squad currently on an upwards trajectory in its bid to return to winning ways in the sport. The team planned to continue with its current driver pairing of Sainz and Lando Norris into 2021 and had opened talks with Sainz over a new deal earlier this year.

Such a move is unlikely to be received well by McLaren CEO Zak Brown, who vented his frustration at Ferrari’s reluctance to agree to a reduced budget cap during heated discussions between F1 bosses in recent weeks.

Ricciardo, who held talks with McLaren back in 2018 as he weighed up his future before ultimately opting to leave Red Bull for Renault, is believed to be the leading candidate to take the remaining seat. 

Vettel is also a possibility, although the four-time world champion’s future is unclear following his split from Ferrari and he could decide to walk away from F1 altogether.

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