RACE DEBRIEF

    Carlos Sainz has recorded a video message to his fans and crew at McLaren as he prepares to say goodbye to the team at the end of the 2020 season, when he will join Ferrari. Get the hankies ready – this one really tugs at the heartstrings...

    The dust has barely begun to settle after a frantic morning in the Formula 1 driver market. First of all McLaren announced Daniel Ricciardo would be joining the team from Renault in 2021, and just minutes later it was confirmed that Carlos Sainz would be making way for the Australian, and joining Ferrari to replace Sebastian Vettel.

    ANALYSIS: Why Ferrari chose Sainz – and why he shouldn't be cast as Leclerc's wingman

    McLaren team boss Zak Brown was fulsome in his praise for his departing driver, saying: “I want to pay tribute to Carlos for the excellent job he has been doing for McLaren in helping our performance recovery plan. He is a real team player and we wish him well for his future beyond McLaren.”

    And Sainz himself returned the favour with a video message to all his McLaren colleagues, fans - and his fellow driver Lando Norris. You can watch it above, and read the full transcript below.

    READ MORE: Sainz confirmed as Leclerc's Ferrari team mate for 2021

    _54I3730_20191117100719592.jpg
    Carlos Sainz scored his first F1 podium in Brazil, last year, after an amazing Grand Prix

    "Dear McLaren family,

    I rarely express myself on a blank piece of paper but here it goes.

    Everybody knows the great history of this team, that's nothing new. However, it wasn't until I saw the cars of my idols line up along the boulevard of the MTC that I truly understood the meaning of becoming a McLaren driver and the responsibility and pride immediately sank in.

    We had a great challenge ahead of us and no time to lose.

    Since the very first day I moved back to the UK every single member of this enormous family made me feel at home. Some of you even helped me to find my flood and fill it in with stuff, showing already great signs of team spirit.

    I could immediately tell that fans, sponsors, shareholders, management, racing team, hospitality crew and everyone at the factory were all on the same boat, rowing in the same direction, fearlessly forward.

    Of course Tomasso [Tom Stallard, Olympic silver medallist rower and Sainz’s race engineer] was particularly good at the rowing part.

    Despite a frustrating start to the 2019 season, I always felt the support and confidence of everyone around me and I knew it was only a matter of time before I started scoring some good points.

    Last season ended up being my strongest year in Formula 1, and a great step forward for the team. Finishing fourth in the constructors’ championship and sixth in the drivers’ championship was a great achievement and then the podium in Brazil: with everyone in top, that was the perfect icing on the cake.

    I've always felt the passion and support from you guys – the McLaren fans, who cheer relentlessly in every single country we race – you are simply amazing.

    Since the very first day you gave me the warmest of welcomes and I am sure we are going to enjoy together the rest of my smooth operation.

    I cannot be more grateful to every single member of the McLaren family and I really look forward to battling you guys on track next year. it's an honour to be part of your history. and all I can say is ‘thank you’.

    Oh, and Lando, it's also been a pleasure to work with you, my muppet friend. Let's finish it off on a high.

    Even though this terrible pandemic has put on hold our positive momentum, 2020 is not over yet. We will be back very soon to give our best. There will be time for goodbyes at the end of the year. Until then, heads down and let's keep pushing.

    Un Abrazo [a hug], Carlos."