After seven race wins with Red Bull, by the middle of 2018 Daniel Ricciardo could see the writing on the wall - teammate Max Verstappen was the future.
It was with that in mind that the affable West Australian made the decision to leave the title contenders and switch to Renault - and later McLaren, as he sought more competitive machinery.
While his debut season with McLaren hasn't brought the immediate results he'd have liked, with teammate Lando Norris already claiming one podium finish and leading Ricciardo in the driver's championship, one key detail shows the Aussie star's standing in the team.
Ricciardo announced his intention to race for McLaren prior to the beginning of last season, and was expected to lead the way ahead of promising youngster Norris, now in his third F1 season.
Norris signed a new contract with McLaren overnight, a three year deal worth roughly $11m (AUD) per season.
The move locks up the driver lineup of Norris and Ricciardo until the end of 2023, but crucially for Ricciardo, it showed McLaren's recognition of his seniority over Norris.
Ricciardo's own three-year deal is believed to be worth roughly $17 million per season - while still substantially less than the $40 million his Renault contract was worth, it's a figure that will likely reassure him of his standing within the team.
The extra $6 million paid to Ricciardo each year shows McLaren thinks highly of the Australian star.
The 31-year-old easily outclassed Renault teammate Esteban Ocon last year, but has found Norris to be more of a challenge - though he outpaced the young Briton at the Spanish GP two weeks ago.
McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl described the decision as "very straightforward".
"Lando has impressed us since his rookie year with his performances, and his evolution as a driver since then has been clear to see," Seidl said.
"He's an integral part of our performance recovery plan and his record so far, securing two podiums with the team over the past year, has shown he's a formidable competitor on track.
"In Lando and Daniel we have a hugely talented and exciting driver line-up, and this announcement is a strong signal of commitment to the next chapter for McLaren from 2022 onwards."
Daniel Ricciardo wary of 'empty' Monaco
The Australian star, a Monaco resident like many of his fellow F1 drivers, won in the Mediterranean principality with Red Bull in 2018.
Last year's grand prix was cancelled due to COVID-19 and Sunday will be the sport's first street race since 2019, with a daily crowd limited to 7,500 and the grandstands at 40 per cent capacity.
"The track itself is so intense that I think that will always be a 10 out of 10," the Australian told reporters at a McLaren event presenting a new one-off livery for the weekend.
"The in-car stuff will have those highs. But the build-up, you're kind of walking through a crowd and the fans to get into the pit lane, into your car.
"It's already kind of chaotic before you get into the car so your heart rate's already up and then the circuit's going to do the rest for you. Maybe there'll be a little more calm before the storm."
Monaco weekend pre-pandemic had a special buzz with the luxury yachts in the harbour, crowds thronging harbourside bars and owners of exotic cars showing off in some of the most expensive traffic jams in the world.
"I am like a little bit scared to not get too excited," Ricciardo said.
"It's that atmosphere, it's like the whole aura of boats and everyone, people on the track at the end of the day drinking and partying and I guess not having that or to that level will probably feel a little empty.
"But for the in-car stuff we'll be OK."
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