“We are a moving team and I think he will help take us to the next level”
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 05/18/20 21:58
McLaren boss Zak Brown believes Daniel Ricciardo is now confident of the team’s progress and future prospects, two years after rejecting it.
The Woking team identified Ricciardo, the seven-time grand prix winner, as the man who replaced Carlos Sainz so clearly that the Spaniard might move to Ferrari.
McLaren held talks with Ricciardo when the Australian was last in the final year of the contract two years ago, but Australia instead chose to move to Renault from Red Bull. At the end of the 2018 season, Renault finished in promising fourth place with points almost double that of McLaren.
But after a turnaround in their respective fates in 2019, when McLaren took the fourth on a comfortable margin and signed several key agreements – including the supply of Mercedes engines for 2021 – Brown believed Ricciardo had bought into their long-term plans.
“Getting a grand prix winner like Daniel is clearly a sign that we are going in the right direction,” Brown, McLaren’s chief executive told Sky Sports. “He believes that.
“We chased him a few years ago before he decided not to join us. I have talked to him ever since and he said ‘you came out of a very bad season’ – which made him politely – ‘but there is also a lot of this that we will do to rebuild the teams’.
“I haven’t brought Andreas Seidl or James Key or restructured the leadership team. So there are lots of promises and, out of a bad season, I can see how he will go ‘oh, let’s see how this plays outside’.”
But, two years later, Brown said: “He likes how it is played, I like how it is played. He sees the changes we have made, the leadership that Andreas brings, the support we have from our shareholders, walking into the Mercedes engine, we is a moving team and I think he will help take us to the next level. “
McLaren is excited about Ricciardo and Norris
Although McLaren appreciated Sainz, and believed the Spaniard would prosper next to Charles Leclerc at Ferrari, Brown was delighted by the arrival of an upcoming Ricciardo driver – one of the most established and high-profile racers on the grid.
“I think he’s really worth it otherwise we won’t do it. What was reported [on wages] inaccurate, but he is a very well paid driver. I think he’s worth it, “Brown insisted.
“He won seven Grands Prix, and I think in the right car he could win the championship immediately.
“He is selling well from a commercial point of view. He is a very interesting racer and I think the combination between him and Lando will be amazing, they will become a fan favorite on and off the track.
“If I look back at McLaren’s history, it’s been a long time since we don’t have one or two world champions in the team, and don’t have Grands Prix winners on the team. I think that is definitely a step forward for us on our journey to having Grand Prix winners in our team. “