Sebastian Vettel’s decision to leave Ferrari was always going to trigger a domino effect in the driver market and the first move has been made, with Ricciardo leaving Renault to move to McLaren in 2021. He’ll join Lando Norris at the Woking squad as part of a multi-year deal.
McLaren CEO Zak Brown said:
“Signing Daniel is another step forward in our long-term plan and will bring an exciting new dimension to the team, alongside Lando. This is good news for our team, partners and of course our fans.
“I also want to pay tribute to Carlos for the excellent job he has been doing for McLaren in helping our performance recovery plan. He is a real team player and we wish him well for his future beyond McLaren.”
With Ricciardo being a contender for the Ferrari seat, it leaves Carlos Sainz as the Scuderia’s most probably choice, with the announcement due to be made very soon.
It’s likely to be a good move for Ricciardo as at this stage, McLaren’s future prospects look much brighter than Renaults do – something that wasn’t the case when he left Red Bull in 2018. Then again, who knows how things will look in another season or two.
It’s a win for McLaren as well – losing Sainz will be a blow, but in Ricciardo the team has ended up with, realistically, the best replacement that it could.
It also closes off a potential destination for Vettel, who’s options for a decent team have just become slightly more limited – assuming he decides to remain in the sport at all.