Daniel Ricciardo speaks for the first time since the announcement of the Australian driver to McLaren from the Renault F1 team, and confesses he had been in talks with Ferrari for some time.
In an exclusive interview with CNN published today, Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo explains what has been happening behind the scenes during Covid 19 lockdown.
“I guess no decision is ever black and white. And I can’t actually give you a black and white answer. 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 guess to compare as well the two I don’t think that’s fair.”
Ricciardo’s move from Renault to Mclaren seemed to shock the French team, prompting team boss Cyril Abiteboul to rather unprofessionally release a press statement specifying the value of loyalty for the team moving forward.
“In our sport, and particularly within the current extraordinary situation, reciprocated confidence, unity and commitment are, more than ever, critical values for a works team,” Abiteboul said.
In a more recent interview, the French team boss claims that McLaren, and perhaps even Ferrari, were ‘pushing’ the Renault driver to make a fast decision.
“I’m a bit disappointed (that Ricciardo left) because I don’t think that you can build anything without stability. That goes for drivers,
“I’m a bit surprised about the activism of (those) two particular F1 teams, who have pushed Daniel to sort of rush the decision,” Abiteboul reveals.
For Ricciardo, perhaps the approaches of both Ferrari and Mclaren was a welcome clarification on his inherent speed, and the Australian freely admits that he’d been in talks with both teams for quite some time.
“There have been discussions already from a few years back. And that continued all the way through to now,” said Ricciardo when admitting the Ferrari talks. “So yeah, I won’t deny that. But obviously it’s never really come to fruition.”
He then explains how his Italian heritage wasn’t a factor in the Ferrari decision making saying:
“I don’t know actually and I’ve never really chose to dive too deep into it. Everyone says it would be a good fit, obviously, with my name and all the background stuff, but yeah, 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.”