In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Amanda Davies, Daniel Ricciardo admitted he'd been having ongoing talks with Ferrari up until his decision to join McLaren.
“There have been discussions already from a few years back. And that continued all the way through to now,” Ricciardo told CNN Sport. “So yeah, I won't deny that. But obviously it's never really come to fruition.”
In his first interview since his multi-year agreement with McLaren was confirmed, the Australian wouldn’t be drawn into his reasons why he joined the team rather than remain with Renault.
Ricciardo also shared his views on Sebastian Vettel’s future in the sport, saying he believes his former teammate wants to continue in the sport.
- Ricciardo on discussions with Ferrari and Carlos Sainz Jr. eventually taking the seat:
“There have been discussions already from a few years back. And that continued all the way through to now. So yeah, I won't deny that. But obviously it's never really come to fruition… I try not to get emotionally caught up in any kind of situation. 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.”
- Ricciardo on why he chose McLaren rather than remain at Renault:
“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.”
- Ricciardo on relations within the Renault team:
“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 fulfil the rest of the year with them, try and do as best as possible and hopefully win as many races as possible.”
- Ricciardo on whether he was surprised Vettel lost his Ferrari seat and his future in the sport:
“I don't want to say the writing was on the wall, but a few of those incidents made this news slightly less traumatic. If I know him well enough, I believe he's still hungry and competitive enough to want to continue. Also, because he's still older than me. So, it makes me not the oldest guy!”
- Ricciardo on his relationship with Vettel:
“I like Seb. Obviously, I had him as a teammate, but as a competitor he brings something to our sport. He's one of the very few if not the only one that isn't active on social media, and he's one of the most successful people ever in our sport, yet he's one of the most private. And even that in itself brings a lot of mystery behind him.”