McLaren has confirmed Carlos Sainz as one of its drivers for 2019, replacing Fernando Alonso at the team.
As reported on Wednesday, ESPN understands Sainz has signed a two-year deal with the team, which will see him swap from Renault to McLaren ahead of the 2019 season. Alonso announced he would leave F1 at the end of the year on Tuesday, vacating the seat at McLaren for Sainz.
Sainz has been under contract with Red Bull since his F1 debut -- and is currently on loan to Renault -- but he hopes the move to McLaren will allow him to start "the next chapter" in his career.
"I'm delighted to finally be able to confirm that I'll be a McLaren driver from the 2019 season," he said. "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 One.
"Fernando is of course one of them, 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.
"Finally, I'd like to thank everyone at McLaren for giving me this opportunity to fulfil a childhood dream. The team has a long-term plan for the future and I'm very much looking forward to playing a key role in its journey back to success."
McLaren had been pursuing Daniel Ricciardo as a potential replacement for Alonso, but the Australian will take Sainz's place at Renault in 2019. McLaren has not yet confirmed the identity of Sainz's teammate for 2019, but the team's CEO Zak Brown is confident the team has secured a quality driver to replace Alonso.
"We're incredibly excited to have Carlos join us as a McLaren driver," Brown said. "We've been assessing him for some time now and rate him very highly among the next generation of young talent emerging through the ranks in Formula One.
"Carlos brings with him the perfect blend of youth and experience. Although he's just 23, he'll be starting his fifth season in the sport with us and will bring with him a huge amount of racing experience, both in Formula One and with our partner Renault.
"It's no secret that Carlos is a huge admirer of Fernando's, and it's fitting that he will be stepping into his seat as a Spaniard with a legendary name in motorsport. We think he'll be a great fit for McLaren and we're really excited to have him join us from next season and beyond."
Sainz had been one of the contenders for the Red Bull drive opened up by Ricciardo next year, but the McLaren news means Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly is the favourite to partner Max Verstappen at Red Bull in 2019.
The second McLaren seat is likely to be fought over by current race driver Stoffel Vandoorne and junior driver Lando Norris, who is currently second in the drivers' standings in Formula 2.