Daniel Ricciardo admits he held talks with Ferrari over a potential move before he decided to join McLaren for the 2021 Formula 1 season.

The Australian signed a multi-year deal to switch from Renault to McLaren next season to replace Carlos Sainz, who is moving to Ferrari to fill the seat vacated by Sebastian Vettel when he leaves the team following the expiry of his current contract at the end of the year.

Ricciardo has continually been linked with a move to Ferrari throughout his career and was understood to have held talks with the Italian outfit during the summer of 2018 while he was weighing up his future at Red Bull.

He was considered a front-runner for Vettel’s seat at Ferrari but the Maranello squad made Sainz its first choice for 2021 after an initial approach for the Spaniard over the winter.

"There have been discussions already from a few years back. And that continued all the way through to now," Ricciardo told CNN.

"So yeah, I won't deny that. But obviously it's never really come to fruition.

"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,” he added. “So I don't really look at it like 'why not me?' I just look at it: Yeah, Carlos had a very strong 2019.

“He's a bit of hot property right now, and I guess it's a good fit for where they are at.”

Ricciardo originally had discussions with McLaren back in 2018 but ultimately opted to sign for Renault, with the French manufacturer more competitive at the time.

McLaren made huge progress last year and stormed to fourth place in the constructors’ championship, while Ricciardo endured a disappointing maiden campaign at Renault.

The 30-year-old says he “put a lot of thought” into his latest career switch, which comes just 18 months after he arrived at Enstone.

"I guess no decision is ever black and white and I can't actually give you a black and white answer,” Ricciardo explained.

“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."

 

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