McLaren boss Zak Brown believes Daniel Ricciardo can help take the team to the “next level” in Formula 1.

Seven-time grand prix winner Ricciardo will join McLaren in 2021 as the Ferrari-bound Carlos Sainz’s replacement after two years at midfield rivals Renault.

McLaren originally held talks with Ricciardo about a potential move during the summer of 2018 as he weighed up his future at Red Bull, but the Australian ultimately favoured a move to Renault because the French squad was more competitive at the time.

Ricciardo went on to endure a frustrating maiden campaign at Renault as the two team’s fortunes diverged, with McLaren enjoying vast improvements on its way to comfortably securing fourth place in the constructors’ championship.

After turning McLaren down two years ago, Brown reckons Ricciardo is now convinced of the team’s future prospects. The Woking outfit is looking to continue its recent upward trajectory in 2020 and is set to be further boosted by a return to Mercedes engines next season.

"Getting a grand prix winner like Daniel definitely is a sign we've going in the right direction - he believes in that,” McLaren CEO Brown told Sky Sports F1.

"We went after him a couple of years ago before he made the decision not to join us. I've talked to him about it since and he went 'you were coming off a pretty poor season' - which was putting it politely - 'but also there was a lot of this is what we're going to do to rebuild the team’.

"I hadn't brought in yet Andreas Seidl or James Key or restructured the leadership team. So there were a lot of promises and, coming off such a bad season, I could see how he would go 'oh, let's see how this plays out’.

"He likes how it's played out, I've liked how it's played out,” Brown added. “He's seen the changes we've made, the leadership Andreas has brought, the backing we have from our shareholders, going to the Mercedes engine, we're a team on the move and I think he's going to help get us to the next level.

"If I look back at the history of McLaren, it's been some time since we haven't had either one or two world champions in the team, and not having Grands Prix winners in the team.

“I think it's definitely a step forward for us on our journey to have a Grand Prix winner on our team."

 

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