Alonso, two-time Formula One world champion, ready for new challenges in motor racing career
Carlos Sainz excited to replace Fernando Alonso at McLaren in 2019
Spaniard Carlos Sainz will drive for McLaren in next season's Formula One championship, filling the vacuum left by the retirement of Fernando Alonso, the team announced on Thursday.
Sainz, 23, son of the famous rally driver who bears the same name, has signed a "multi-year deal" with McLaren. He is presently 11th in the championship this year driving for Renault.
"McLaren Racing today confirms that Carlos Sainz will race for the team in Formula 1 from the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship," a statement said on team's website. "Carlos, 23, from Madrid, Spain, has signed a multi-year deal with the team, replacing Fernando Alonso."
Sainz, who in almost four years on the circuit has yet to feature on the podium, said he had been eyeing a seat at McLaren for a while.
"I'm delighted to finally be able to confirm that I'll be a McLaren driver from the 2019 season," said Sainz, whose best finish was fourth in the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix for previous team Toro Rosso.
"It's something I've been looking at for a while and I'm very excited about this next chapter in my career.
"I've been a McLaren fan for as long as I can remember. It's a great name in the sport with an incredible heritage, and the list of drivers that have raced for McLaren over the years are among the heroes of Formula 1."
Sainz, whose best overall finish in the championship is ninth in the 2017 season with 54 points, said it is special to be following in the footsteps of his 37-year-old compatriot and two-time world champion Alonso.
"Fernando is of course one of them [heroes], so it's particularly special that I'll be taking his seat as part of the next generation of Spanish racing drivers behind the wheel of a McLaren," Sainz said.
A new road for Alonso
Meanwhile, double world champion Alonso on Wednesday explained his decision to leave Formula One at the end of the season, stating there were bigger challenges he wanted to face.
He has been widely tipped to race in the Indianapolis 500 next year as he attempts to win the 'Triple Crown of Motorsport' which comprises the Monaco F1 Grand Prix, the Le Mans 24 hour race and the Indianapolis event.
Only one driver has won all three, Britain's Graham Hill, who notched up five Monaco victories, took Le Mans in 1972 and the Indianapolis 500 in 1966.
Alonso, a double Monaco Grand Prix winner, won the Le Mans 24 Hours on his debut with Toyota in June this year and is ninth in the Formula One drivers' championship standings.
Speaking ahead of competing for Toyota at an endurance race at the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in Britain, Alonso told the BBC Formula One had changed since he started and could no longer offer him the sort of challenges he enjoys.
In the 2017 Indy 500, he led for 27 laps before suffering an engine failure with 21 laps remaining.
Alonso started his F1 career with the now-defunct Minardi team in 2001 and moved to Renault two years later. He became the youngest world champion in Formula One history with Renault in 2005, winning again the following year.
His storied career has included 32 wins, 22 pole positions and 97 podiums so far, although he has not won a race since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix with Ferrari. He has not finished on the podium since rejoining McLaren in 2015.