The McLaren team had the option of blocking Carlos Sainz’s transfer to Ferrari for 2021, but failed to do so because it allowed the Spaniard to make the move and because it meant it could bring in the coveted Daniel Ricciardo itself.
That tells McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown in the Australian In the Fastlane-podcast. “Carlos has been of great value to McLaren,” says Brown, “and we could possibly have stopped him so he couldn’t move to another team.”
But, Brown continues: “We always wanted Ricciardo and had even tried to bring him in before.” With the transfer from Sainz to Ferrari, ‘the pieces of the puzzle fell into place for everyone’.
When Sainz told McLaren that Ferrari was interested, Brown gave him permission to talk to the Scuderia. “We agreed, on the condition that we ourselves could get someone like Ricciardo, or at least someone of his qualities.”
“So we said to Carlos: ‘Go see if you can get out with Ferrari, and then if we can get a seven-time race winner, it will work out well for everyone’.” And so it happened, with Ricciardo then signing with McLaren.
McLaren had previously tried to snare Ricciardo when his Red Bull contract expired at the end of 2018. Then the Aussie however for an adventure at Renault. Understandably, says Brown, “We had just had one of our worst years ever, and I couldn’t make more than promises to Daniel then.”
“I could say to him: ‘we are bringing in a great team boss, a good technical director and we ensure that we have the resources we need’, but those were just words back then.”
How different that was last spring, however. “2019 has been a strong season for us, and we really brought in a highly regarded team principal in Andreas Seidl and a good technical director in James Key. So we did what we said we would do. ”
In particular, the arrival of Seidl, previously very successful with Porsche in the endurance-Racing helped win over Ricciardo, says Brown. “I think that was very important. ‘Andreas is a monster,’ said Daniel, and I think he meant that well, ”laughs Brown.