Ricciardo: I could have lost McLaren seat without early deal

Renault Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo says he risked losing the opportunity to race for McLaren in 2021 had he delayed his decision to join the team any further.

Ricciardo: I could have lost McLaren seat without early deal

Ricciardo signed for McLaren last month in the slipstream of Ferrari announcing that Sebastian Vettel would not be staying on in 2021, and that he would be replaced by Carlos Sainz. That opened a vacancy at McLaren that Ricciardo immediately filled.

Some observers have questioned why the Australian didn’t wait and at least see how the 2020 formbook looked rather than committing to a move so far in advance.

However Ricciardo says that even once the delayed season started he wouldn’t have had clear answers for a month or two, and thus there was no point in delaying his decision.

“I think obviously Vettel’s announcement or news with Ferrari kind of sparked everything,” Ricciardo told the F1 podcast. “And then things were moving pretty quickly around Carlos and all the other stuff.

“Although it seemed like there was maybe still time, I don’t actually think there was, to make movement, if that was what you were going for.

“This is all just what I’m playing in my head – if you start racing in July, which even then wasn’t 100%, but which we are by the looks of it, you’re not going to find out in the first race or the second race.

“You’re probably going to wait until August or maybe September until you really know where everyone’s at, and then I think it felt like it was going to be too late to get something you were after.”

Read Also:

Ricciardo admitted that it wasn’t a clear cut decision to leave Renault for McLaren, and he had to based it on a combination of 2019 form and the unknown potential of next year’s Mercedes-powered package.

“Obviously the reality is you get pitches from whichever team is talking to you, and to some extent, especially now without having any races and any kind of proof other than last year, you have to go on what pitch excites you more than the other. You’re going with what you feel and think at the time. Who knows?

“Obviously if I go back to last year, which is our best reference for now, they were the team that made the most noise.

“Mercedes won the championship again, but it was quite clear to most that McLaren was the team which made the biggest step out of all. That was really encouraging for them, and that’s really all you can base it on.

“And then the pitch for the future. Obviously they are switching power units and all that. Even talking about it now it’s certainly tough, because by no means was it an easy decision, and not having very much to gauge from 2020, that was pretty difficult.”

Asked what was the key to his choice he added: “I’ll be honest, there wasn’t one deciding factor.

“It was certainly different to the Red Bull situation [in 2018]. I feel like Red Bull had run its course for me, personally, I’d been there a long time, we’d tried and tried, and we’d won races, but not the championship.

“So then it was, ‘OK, I just need a change.’ This one I wouldn’t say it was as clear, as far as yes we didn’t achieve what we wanted last year, but equally I wasn’t expecting to win last year. Let’s say it was by no means an easy one, and time will tell.”

shares
comments
Hamilton launches new commission to improve diversity in racing

Previous article

Hamilton launches new commission to improve diversity in racing

Next article

The lost F1 team that launched Newey

The lost F1 team that launched Newey
Load comments
Why unseen Hungary heroics could be Latifi's making Prime

Why unseen Hungary heroics could be Latifi's making

The chaotic start to the Hungarian GP set the scene for F1's less heralded drivers to make a name for themselves. Esteban Ocon did just that to win in fine style, but further down the order one driver was making his first visit to the points and - while the circumstances were fortunate - took full advantage of the chance presented to him

Hungarian Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Hungarian Grand Prix driver ratings

This was race that showcased the best and worst of Formula 1, producing a first time winner and a memorable comeback to a podium finish. Avoiding trouble at the start and astute strategy calls were key to success, but where some drivers took full advantage, others made key errors that cost them dearly

Formula 1
Aug 2, 2021
The "heart-breaking" call that led to Ocon's Hungarian GP triumph Prime

The "heart-breaking" call that led to Ocon's Hungarian GP triumph

Set to restart the red-flagged Hungarian Grand Prix in second, Esteban Ocon had some doubts when he peeled into the pits to swap his intermediate tyres for slicks. But this "heart-breaking" call was vindicated in spectacular fashion as the Alpine driver staved off race-long pressure from Sebastian Vettel for a memorable maiden Formula 1 victory

Formula 1
Aug 2, 2021
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Prime

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Formula 1
Jul 31, 2021
Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track' Prime

Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track'

Mercedes ended Friday practice at the Hungaroring with a clear gap to Red Bull thanks to Valtteri Bottas’s pace in topping FP2. But there are other reasons why the Black Arrows squad feels satisfied with its progress so far at a track many Formula 1 observers reckon favours Red Bull overall...

Formula 1
Jul 30, 2021
How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks Prime

How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks

OPINION: Red Bull was justified to be upset that Lewis Hamilton survived his British GP clash with Max Verstappen and went on to win. But its attempts to lobby the FIA to reconsider the severity of Hamilton's in-race penalty were always likely to backfire, and have only succeeded in creating a PR disaster that will distract from its on-track efforts

Formula 1
Jul 30, 2021
The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach Prime

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach

OPINION: It wasn't just the Verstappen/Hamilton clash that had the Red Bull and Mercedes bosses at loggerheads at Silverstone, with the nature of Formula 1's 2025 engines also subject for disagreement. But hopes to have loud, emotive engines that are also environmentally friendly don't have to be opposed.

Formula 1
Jul 29, 2021
How Lotus uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’ Prime

How Lotus uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’

Cast in the mould of its founder Colin Chapman, Lotus was powerful and daring but flawed – as it proved through further soaring peaks and painful troughs into the 1980s. DAMIEN SMITH examines a game-changing era

Formula 1
Jul 27, 2021