In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Amanda Davies, new McLaren F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo revealed that he had discussions ongoing with Scuderia Ferrari leading up until his decision to sign a multi-year deal with McLaren.
“There have been discussions already from a few years back. And that continued all the way through to now,” Ricciardo admitted to CNN.
“So yeah, I won’t deny that. But obviously it’s never really come to fruition.”
The man Ricciardo replaced at McLaren, Carlos Sainz Jr., ended up being the driver that Ferrari chose in the end. However, the 30 year old Australian expressed that he wasn’t upset at a deal falling through.
“I see how Carlos is a fit for the team. So I don’t really look at it like ‘why not me?’ I just look at it: Yeah, Carlos had a very strong 2019. Yeah, he’s a bit of hot property right now, and I guess it’s a good fit for where they are at,” he said.
While Sainz had a stellar 2019 campaign, finishing sixth in the drivers championship, Ricciardo’s season with Renault was less than spectacular. He finished ninth in the drivers championship with 54 points, 42 points behind Sainz. The French outfit finished fifth in the constructors championship on 91 points that year, 54 points behind fourth place McLaren.
Despite that, Ricciardo said that it wasn’t just the result of last season that sparked him to seek greener pastures, it was a decision that he considered for a long time.
“I guess no decision is ever black and white,” Ricciardo said. There wasn’t any moment, which was like a light bulb and said, ‘Yes, that’s what I need to do.’”
“Equally, there wasn’t something I saw in McLaren, which created that or there wasn’t something in Renault, which created the moment of ‘I have to move on.’”
“The discussions with McLaren go back to even before, I guess, 2018, and I guess continued over time. Obviously it’s not an overnight decision. I put a lot of thought into all of it, but yeah, not easy. I guess to compare as well the two I don’t think that’s fair.”
Despite his future already being set, there is no bad blood in the Renault camp despite knowing that “The Honey Badger” won’t be with the team in 2021. Ricciardo hopes to get them results when the Formula 1 season finally gets underway.
“I certainly know that I still owe a lot to Renault and I want to do that, not only for myself, but for them. And after the news, it was actually really nice. I received a lot of positive feedback from people in the team. And I know that they’re excited for me to fulfill the rest of the year with them, try and do as best as possible and hopefully win as many races as possible.”
View the full video interview here.