'Going to be too late': Daniel Ricciardo spills on McLaren move

Daniel Ricciardo says he risked missing out on the McLaren move if he didn't act fast. Pic: Getty

Australia's Daniel Ricciardo admits he had to act fast or risk his move to McLaren in 2021 falling through.

The outgoing Renault driver shocked motorsport fans when he announced last month that he would be leaving the French manufacturer for McLaren at the end of the season.

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The bombshell development came on the same day that current McLaren driver Carlos Sainz Jr was confirmed as Sebastian Vettel's replacement at Ferrari.

Ricciardo's move took many observers by surprise, with F1 experts perhaps expecting him to see how the rest of the 2020 season panned out, before making a decision.

However, the 30-year-old told the F1 podcast that in order for that to happen he would have had to wait until several races were completed to get a better understanding of where Renault were at.

The seven-time grand prix winner admits that due to the fast-moving nature of things, he would have missed the opportunity to switch to McLaren had he waited.

"I think obviously Vettel's announcement or news with Ferrari kind of sparked everything," Ricciardo said.

"And then things were moving pretty quickly around Carlos and all the other stuff.

"Although it seemed like there was maybe still time, I don't actually think there was, to make movement - if that was what you were going for.

"This is all just what I'm playing in my head - if you start racing in July, which even then wasn't 100%, but which we are by the looks of it, you're not going to find out in the first race or the second race.

"You're probably going to wait until August or maybe September until you really know where everyone's at, and then I think it felt like it was going to be too late to get something you were after."

Ricciardo will be replacing Carlos Sainz Jr. at McLaren next year. Pic: Getty

McLaren progress a deciding factor for Ricciardo

Ricciardo's impending move from Renault to McLaren was viewed by some as a sideways career trajectory for the Aussie, who had also held talks with Ferrari.

The Aussie admits that while it wasn't an easy decision to make, the obvious progress McLaren had made over recent years and the Mercedes-powered cars at their disposal in 2021, helped Ricciardo make up his mind.

"The reality is you get pitches from whichever team is talking to you, and to some extent, especially now without having any races and any kind of proof other than last year, you have to go on what pitch excites you more than the other," Ricciardo said.

"If I go back to last year, which is our best reference for now, they were the team that made the most noise.

"Mercedes won the championship again, but it was quite clear to most that McLaren was the team which made the biggest step out of all.

"That was really encouraging for them, and that's really all you can base it on.

"And then the pitch for the future, obviously they are switching power units and all that.

"Even talking about it now it's certainly tough, because by no means was it an easy decision, and not having very much to gauge from 2020, that was pretty difficult."