Despite an abbreviated, COVID-impacted season, Formula 1 fans enjoyed a fantastic year of racing. The competition was fierce, the crashed epic. Mercedes dominated as usual and Lewis Hamilton took the crown by a country mile. A pleasant surprise was that McLaren, once the sport’s best team, battled hard and snagged third place in the Constructors championship. Thanks to good drives from young Lando Norris and teammate Carlos Sainz, the British team eked out the podium by just seven points over Racing Point. Red Bull might have finished far off in second. Somehow, it always seemed like McLaren was in the running for a high-points finish.
But the Norris-Sainz duo’s term together has come to an end. Carlos has left McLaren for a seat at Ferrari. It’s a move that is the goal of countless aspiring racing drivers. Yet it’s one he’s likely second-guessing given the Italian company’s sixth place finish this year. To send Sainz off with fond memories in heart, McLaren put together a video featuring the Spanish driver and his good friend Lando. It’s not just any video though. This oddball is narrated by the two ex-teammates and features real clips from their tenure together. Hysterically, though, the two drivers are puppets. This comes from the friends’ inside joke of Sainz repeatedly, regularly calling Norris a “muppet.” The appropriately-titled “No Strings Attached” is good for a view into the Sainz-Norris friendship, and certainly good for a few laughs as well.
It’s one of the strangest videos I’ve ever seen, especially from an F1 team. And it’s also one of my favorite. The team is clearly having a good time together and crucially aren’t taking themselves too seriously. Far too often Formula 1 teams and drivers seem to be focused on their pace and absolutely nothing else. On camera at least, they forget that they’re a part of the world’s premiere motorsport and people look to them to serve as entertainment and personalities. This video eschews that formality entirely. Shortly after it was released, McLaren dropped another video onto their YouTube page. “A message to our friends at Scuderia Ferrari and to the famous tifosi” is an emotional goodbye to their beloved teammate and friend. It shows that everyone really did enjoy having Carlos on board. Grab the tissues before you watch this one.
Looking forward, Carlos’ seat will be filled by Australian Daniel Ricciardo. The excitable veteran has famously joked around with Lando during media days and interviews in the past. It should be a fantastic duo, especially considering that they will have Mercedes power behind them. As an admitted McLaren Racing fan, I’m sad to see Carlos Sainz go but welcoming the new era with one of my favorite drivers coming on board. And with news of the extended season in the coming year, 2021 is shaping up to be a properly fun season of Formula 1.