With the announcement that Carlos Sainz will race alongside Charles Leclerc at Ferrari in 2021, the Spaniard becomes only the fifth driver in F1 history to move from McLaren to Ferrari. We take a look at the other four drivers who did so.
Gilles Villeneuve is the only driver to drive for both McLaren and Ferrari in a single season. The Canadian made his Formula 1 debut with McLaren at the 1977 British Grand Prix – which would be the only race in his F1 career in which he did not race for Ferrari. Villeneuve joined Ferrari for the final two races of the 1977 season, finishing twelfth at his home event and retiring from the season-closing Japanese Grand Prix. He replaced Niki Lauda, who did not appear at the final two races in 1977, having already wrapped up the Drivers’ Championship. Villeneuve raced with Ferrari until his death during qualifying for the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix.
Alain Prost became the second driver to switch from McLaren to Ferrari in 1990. After spending 1988 and 1989 as Ayrton Senna’s team-mate, the Frenchman won the 1989 Drivers’ Championship in controversial circumstances and quit the Honda-powered team in favour of Ferrari. Prost was the first driver to be signed for the team following founder Enzo Ferrari’s death. Prost finished second in the championship in his first season with Ferrari, with the title being decided controversially once again. In 1991, Prost publicly criticised the relatively uncompetitive Ferrari and was subsequently fired from the team before the end of the 1991 season.
Gerhard Berger is the only driver in F1 history to move from Ferrari, to McLaren and then back to Ferrari. Berger first raced for Ferrari between 1987 and 1989, recording a best championship finish of third in 1988. He then moved to McLaren to replace the Ferrari-bound Alain Prost in 1990 and remained at the team through to the end of the 1992 season. Berger announced his intention to return to Ferrari over the 1992 Belgian Grand Prix weekend, after being persuaded to move by his current team-mate Ayrton Senna and former champion Niki Lauda. Berger won one more race with the team during his second stint at the Italian outfit, taking victory in the 1994 German Grand Prix.
Kimi Raikkonen is the most recent driver to jump ship from McLaren to Ferrari. He did so in 2007 and enjoyed immediate success with the Scuderia. Raikkonen became only the sixth driver to win on their debut Ferrari outing at the 2007 Australian Grand Prix and went on to win the Drivers’ Championship that season. The Finn remains the team’s latest World Champion. Like Berger, Raikkonen returned for a second stint at Ferrari. He re-joined the team in 2014, and went on to take one more victory in red, at the 2018 United States Grand Prix.
Carlos Sainz will become the fifth driver to move from McLaren to Ferrari when he joins Charles Leclerc at the team in 2021. Sainz will be the third Spaniard to race for the team after Alfonso de Portago (1956-57) and Fernando Alonso (2010-14). The Sainz and Leclerc partnership will be the first Monegasque and Spanish line-up in Formula 1 history.
How do you think Sainz will fare with Ferrari in 2021? Leave a comment below!
After graduating from the University of Hull in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. Now in its fifth season, the blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics. Nicky also writes at F1Destinations and GPDestinations. In 2017 and 2018, he wrote for Badger GP. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast.