Daniel Ricciardo's move to McLaren could prove to be lucrative in more ways than one, with the Aussie F1 superstar revealing the team's ambition for him to compete in Supercars or Indycar.
Not only is Ricciardo benefiting from what seems to be a much more competitive F1 package with McLaren after two so-so seasons with Renault, team CEO Zak Brown's broader motorsport ambitions seem to suit the Western Australian down to the ground.
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Brown, a part owner of motorsport conglomerate Walkinshaw-Andretti United, seems keen to give Ricciardo all the opportunities he can handle in categories outside F1 - including a tilt in Supercars if schedules work out.
In an interview with GP Racing magazine, Ricciardo said McLaren were encouraging of both himself and teammate Lando Norris getting involved in outside categories in addition to their F1 commitments.
Walkinshaw-Andretti United currently has Chaz Mostert and Bryce Fullwood driving for them in the 2021 Supercars series.
“I do have to ask Zak. I need to — even if I don’t do the race — I need to drive a Supercar around Bathurst,” Ricciardo said.
“Whether it’s a private test, or the actual race, I do need to do it. And I think now I have a good opportunity with Zak as a friend and a boss.
“He’s keen to try and get us into the other open-wheelers in the States, the IndyCars. So there’s a lot to do.”
Ricciardo will be hoping to improve upon his McLaren debut from three weeks ago when F1 returns to Imola this weekend.
Daniel Ricciardo's cheeky shot for F1 champ
Ricciardo has fired a cheeky shot across the bows of seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton ahead of this weekend's Emiglia Romagna GP.
Formula One will return to the Imola circuit once again this weekend after it rejoined the F1 calendar during last season's coronavirus impacted schedule for the first time since 2006.
The circuit is a happy hunting ground for Ricciardo, who scored the second of his two podiums for the season at the Italian circuit while driving for Renault.
Now representing the rising McLaren, Ricciardo clearly has his sights set much higher than third heading into this weekend.
Asked by Square Mile's Ben Winstanley how much of Hamilton's success could be attributed to piloting what has undoubtedly been the strongest package in F1 since 2014, Ricciardo said he felt a little closer to Hamilton in terms of skill than the record might otherwise show.
Mercedes have won every constructors' championship since the introduction of the hybrid power era in 2014.
“To answer it diplomatically, I think Lewis isn’t the only one that could win races in that car," Ricciardo said.
"That’s obviously my opinion and I think that George Russell, in a way, showed the possibility of that by pretty much beating Valtteri (Bottas) in his first race.
"So you could argue that just maybe Lewis doesn’t have the strongest competition."
However Ricciardo also acknowledged that driving the best car on the grid also came with its own set of challenges and expectations, which required a driver of Hamilton's calibre to handle.
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