Paris (AFP) - Carlos Sainz on Wednesday emerged in pole position to replace Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari next season, according to reports.
Vettel announced on Tuesday he was quitting the Italian Formula One team, triggering intense speculation as to who would be offered the dream drive alongside Charles Leclerc in 2021.
And it is Spaniard Sainz who looks set to become the German's successor, according to Motorsport.com and Autosport.
Talks are apparently ongoing between the McLaren driver and Ferrari, with an announcement expected this week.
The BBC suggest that Daniel Ricciardo, who is out of contract with Renault at the end of this season, will move to McLaren to fill the vacant seat left by Sainz's switch to Maranello.
Four-time world champion Vettel, outshone by Leclerc last season, is quitting Ferrari after talks over a new contract broke down.
It was widely reported Ferrari were offering the 32-year-old a one-year extension at a significantly-reduced salary.
Sainz, whose father, also Carlos, is a two-time world rally champion, has previously driven for Red Bull's feeder team Torro Rosso and Renault before impressing with McLaren last season.
The 25-year-old secured the once all-conquering British team's first podium place in almost six years in Brazil last year.
Signing Sainz will end any lingering speculation about six-time champion Lewis Hamilton leaving Mercedes for Ferrari.
After the first 10 races of the coronavirus-hit 2020 were either cancelled or postponed, Formula One hopes to open its season in Austria with back-to-back races on July 5 and 12.