Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, Yas Marina, 2019

Official: Ricciardo to join McLaren for 2021 F1 season

2021 F1 season

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Daniel Ricciardo will join McLaren for the 2021 F1 season, the team has announced.

Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul reacted with disappointment to losing the driver who joined his team on a two-year contract in 2018.

“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,” he said.

“I am confident that the 2020 season will allow us to accomplish even more together. Our ambitions and the strategy of Renault DP World F1 Team remain unchanged.”

Ricciardo said in a social media post he was “grateful for my time with Renault and the way I was accepted into the team.

“But we aren’t done and I can’t wait to get back on the grid this year. My next chapter isn’t here yet, so let’s finish this one strong.”

McLaren confirmed Ricciardo will partner Lando Norris, taking the place of Carlos Sainz Jnr, who is expected to be confirmed as Ferrari’s replacement for Sebastian Vettel imminently.

“Signing Daniel is another step forward in our long-term plan and will bring an exciting new dimension to the team, alongside Lando,” said McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown. “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.”

Ricciardo’s move leaves a vacancy at Renault alongside Esteban Ocon for next year.

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Ricciardo’s career progression

YearTeamChampionship position
2012Toro Rosso18th
2013Toro Rosso14th
2014Red Bull3rd
2015Red Bull8th
2016Red Bull3rd
2017Red Bull5th
2018Red Bull6th

View the current list of 2021 F1 drivers and teams

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2020 F1 season

Browse all 2020 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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91 comments on “Official: Ricciardo to join McLaren for 2021 F1 season”

  1. isaac (@invincibleisaac)
    14th May 2020, 10:04

    He will be a great team-mate for Land Norris.

    1. I just feel sorry for Sainz.
      He had a great season in 2019 and deserves better than being without a team in 2021.

      1. That’s a funny one mate. Will enjoy seeing Sainz fighting for victories in 2021!

        1. Mclaren will have Mercedes engines in 2021. Whether that can help them become a front running team, we will see. Before 2014, I predicted that Williams would be comptetive in that year due to the switch to Mercedes engines.

          Now, Vettel does not have many options left for 2021.

      2. Its expected he’s gonna be replacing Vettel at Ferrari. Its in the above article

      3. You see these kids with so much potential – he had a good year last year too. It’s a shame really, but Honey Badger don’t care, it takes what it wants.

  2. As predicted by quite a few people.

  3. Ricciardo can have a bright future in McLaren if Mercedes provides and the 2022 regs help as well. I think he fits right to be McLaren Plan B after Sainz leaves to Ferrari. Sainz fits better in there. Everyone wins. Happy days for F1 fans.

    1. He was Mclaren’s Plan A from memory

    2. I feel sorry for Carlos Sainz, he was well liked within McLaren and the team is on an upward trajectory with their two youg drivers. I can’t help but think that McLaren will be going upwards these next 5 years while Ferrari will be going down. Carloz could have been a part of building this new success, and create his legacy with a team that is just as relevant to F1’s history as Ferrari is.

      Ricciardo is ready to win the WDC, and he will push his car to the absolute limit, something Ferrari will need more than anything in the near future.

      1. Yes Ricciardo is a car man. He loves racing and McLaren are making the investments they need to improve their standing. Its a good move. I will pay to see Daniel in an improved McLaren

    3. What Mark Russell thinks: I think he fits right to be McLaren Plan B after Sainz leaves to Ferrari.
      What McLaren actually think: “Signing Daniel is another step forward in our long-term plan and will bring an exciting new dimension to the team, alongside Lando,” said McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown. “This is good news for our team, partners and of course our fans”..
      Note the step forward, good news bits Mr Russell. Clearly McLaren are thrilled to be replacing Carlos with Danny. Not that I think Carlos isn’t much good, it’s just that Danny is a better choice. Simples. In fact I sincerely hope Carlos enjoys his year at Ferrari and gets to learn alongside his younger team mate.

  4. No mention on the length of the contract?

    1. only that it is a a multi-year agreement, sumedh.

  5. Can’t wait for the Norris & Ricciardo show.

    Hopefully this is a step up the grid for both team and driver. McLaren have been making great progress lately. I had been excited by the chance of dan in scarlet but I feel Ferrari were more looking for a barrichello…

    But I can see Renault favouring Ocon for the season, if we have one.

    1. +1 Lando and Daniel will make an awesome bromance

      1. Hm, I am not sure it will really be all that happy and sunshine @eurobrun

  6. Cristiano Ferreira
    14th May 2020, 10:08

    Wow, just wow

    Vettel to Renault or Vettel to retire?

    1. Vettel to retire, hulk to come back … maybe

      1. My money is on that too

    2. German press says Vettel wants to drive a Mercedes – whether it’s an F1 or school bus is up to Toto.

    3. Hey, there’s that Silver team that has won 6 straight double world championships, and they have not confirmed their line up yet for 2021. Both of their drivers are out of contract this year. One could leave, while the other one could stay, or both could stay.

      Mercedes have a lot to consider here, and a lot of work. Hamilton is out of contract. However, no Ferrari move, as that has been thrown out of the window. Bottas on the other hand, has to worry about Mercedes considering Russell and Vettel for the other Mercedes seat. The outside shot, is if Hamilton decides to retire, and if that occurs, we could have a whole new line up for Mercedes in 2021.

      1. I really doubt mercedes will change the whole line up, I think hamilton will stay, if he doesn’t bottas will.

        At this point vettel isn’t even an upgrade on bottas with mistakes accouned for, maybe russel over bottas while keeping hamilton.

        1. accounted*

        2. We could be heading for a shock Vettel might go to Mercedes alongside Hamilton to become a superteam. Hamilton would not be bothered by having a driver of his class in the other car. As a marketing thing it would be mega to have two driver’s with 11 DWC. Ie seven for Hamilton.

  7. Well that’s going to really annoy the edgy people on twitter who hate these guys for being popular. I myself can’t wait, this is gonna be fun.

  8. Sainz to Ferrari. Alonso back in Renault for third stint?

    1. @amg44 I doubt it.

  9. Really disappointed with this shuffle around. Sainz at Ferrari is really dull, just a solid #2. Quietly hoped for a last hoorah of Alonso v Hamilton, with some internal mayhem when Leclerc would have brought the fight to him, or at the very least see Ricciardo get a shot at the red team.

    Interesting to see whether McLaren gets the new regulations right. I think they may and I hope they do. Would be particularly ironic if Alonso does join Renault.

    1. Sainz at Ferrari is anything but dull. Ferrari know a thing or two about F1 and wisely have chosen Sainz over Ricciardo. Ricciardo was not meant for that project. Binotto, Leclerc, Camilleri, Elkann… everyone is younger than supposed for their positions, they needed a young and experienced hungry driver who showed he can beat Verstappen. And that was not Danny Ric, but Carlos.

      1. pastaman (@)
        14th May 2020, 13:12

        Carlos Sr., is that you?

        1. Ciertamente no!

      2. @heming49 what do you mean “everyone is younger than supposed for their positions”? As pointed out elsewhere, a number of those figures really aren’t that young – for example, Camilleri is 65 years old, which would make him a pensioner in quite a few nations.

        At 50 years old, Binotto is older than average for somebody taking on that role when compared to quite a few of his predecessors. Marco Mattiacci was 44 when he was appointed as Team Principal, Stefano Domenicali was 43, Jean Todt was 48 – you have to go back to Cesare Fiorio in 1989 to find somebody of similar age as Binotto, as Cesare was also 50 when he took up that role.

        Binotto really isn’t that youthful compared to the rest of the field either. Abiteboul is 42, Williams is 43, Wolff is 48, Horner is 46, Seidl is 44, Vasseur is 51, Steiner and Szafnauer are both 55 – only Tost, at 64, is significantly older. Half of the teams on the grid have a younger Team Principal than Binotto, with an average age (excluding Tost) of 48 – Binotto really is not as youthful as you claim he is by any means.

    2. I think many people unfairly underestimate Sainz on this site. He has proven he’s more than capable, none of the top drivers actually had a drive close to Sainz’s from Brazil or Austria last year. I think he’ll match Leclerc in no time and we’ll get amazing intra-team battles. He might even become number one.

      1. Yeah say what you want about results, his driving has been fantastic. Overtakes and Starts especially.

      2. I think I agree that Sainz is going to be interesting at Ferrari @pironitheprovocateur, despite @heming49 ;) I still think that Ricciardo would have been a bit more immediately solid winner next to Leclerc, but I also see why both for him and for Ferrari, Sainz is a better choice there for a longer period, while Ricciardo can now go and lead McLaren – certainly wish them both success.

      3. petebaldwin (@)
        14th May 2020, 14:32

        Yeah I agree with you. Lots seem to struggle with the idea that a driver in a slow car can be doing an incredible job yet finish outside of the points… Sainz has done really well and it’ll be further highlighted next year when he is competitive against Leclerc and and Norris is competitive against Ricciardo.

      4. @pironitheprovocateur

        I think many people unfairly underestimate Sainz on this site

        It’s the opposite. This site even ranked Sainz higher than Leclerc last year.

    3. You really think Sainz would beat Vertappen in comparable cars? That’s laughable quite frankly.

      I think Sainz has been overrated by people generally certainly up until last year. I do wonder if being up against an F1 rookie (no offence to Lando) made him look good. Sainz did do pretty well though.

      We shall see now though won’t we, how he gets on compared to Leclerc.

  10. Interesting development of things. I just hope Renault puts Guanyu Zhou in the seat for next year. He’s talented and to have the first Chinese driver in your car should be a marketing no-brainer. Just bring him in.

  11. But, but…what about the challenge he saw at Renault?
    Conclusion: he either likes money more or he dislikes the performances of Verstappen more than being in a promising car.

    1. Maybe getting paid what he was worth was the deciding factor leaving Red Bull. Also Honda was coming in and let’s be honest I would’ve wanted to get well away too! I’m sure there are plenty of reasons

    2. Or perhaps he can see that McLaren is more likely to bring him a championship than Renault is?
      He’s made no secret that that’s what he wants.

      1. No, red bull gave him as much as renault, money was not the problem. Verstappen matter is certainly suspicious.

      2. I do think there’s a lot of merit in Ron Dennis’s view that being in a works team is much more likely to bag you a world championship. In a few years’ time Ricciardo could be ruing leaving Renault. Or maybe not, but my point is that the move wasn’t a no-brainer for Ricciardo.

    3. He realized he made mistake by going to Renault and the sudden vacancy at McLaren is like a salvation for him. Red Bull with their favouritism and smug leadership offers nothing to any other driver bar Verstappen.

      1. I don’t can’t see it as a mistake – just a small gamble that had only paid off in cash to date. We all know that he couldn’t stomach another year of fighting for scraps and not knowing who was going to back him at Redbull (or listening to utter tripe).
        Now, with no customer cars and the consumer car market the way it’s going to be for the next few years, Renault really must be on a knife-edge in the sport.
        McLaren is all upside from that point of view… a better powerplant coming in and Lando seems the pick of the bunch to drive along side of.

  12. as a Mclaren fan… I am sad to see Carlos go (I do wish him all the best and hope Ferrari treat him well) however I am extremely happy the team landed Danny Ric, one of my favorite drivers; what a pairing with Lando !!!

    1. Sainz might have been the best McLaren performer since Hamilton – Button tandem, it’s really shame they lost him. My second favourite McLaren driver after Kimi. But Danny has a lot to offer, I hope they’ll push each other to good performances and bring McLaren up.

      1. Sainz might have been the best McLaren performer since Hamilton – Button tandem

        Not sure about that, but the best for now since Alonso I’d agree with :P

        1. Yes, alonso did very well at mclaren, or well, at any other car, really, he never lacked the ability to extract max performance, especially from bad cars, a quality not many had apart from him and schumacher.

  13. Sonny Crockett
    14th May 2020, 10:33

    Ricciardo + Norris = Possibly the most exciting pairing on the grid.

    I just hope that, with the rule freeze, McLaren aren’t on the back-foot by having to squeeze the Mercedes engine into a car that the FIA will only allow minimal modifications to.

  14. To be honest I’m pretty disappointed. Dan at Ferrari would’ve been a good fit and I was looking forward to having him back up the pointy end.

    Frankly I just don’t see Mclaren up there any time soon unless Mercedes quit and McLaren becomes the de facto works team again.

    Still, I expect it to be better than the disappointment that Renault has been. They had so much promise and did so little.

    1. I think that Renault were poleaxed by Ghosn’s removal – he was the architect of their return as a works team, and likely their chief backer in the boardroom. When he was ousted, I think he took any chance of a decent level of development funding with him, and Renault were forced to try and develop their car on a shoestring budget, with the kind of results you would expect from such an exercise.

  15. I think Ricciardo may be in a better place than Sainz if Ferrari continue to make tactical mistakes during races. They have had the drivers to win but as a team they are a little dysfunctional.

  16. So, in 2021 we have for McLaren.
    • Andreas Sidl
    • Mercedes engine
    • New regulations

    Could be the very right time for Riccardo to land there.
    I wish them the best. Perhaps it’s time to be McLaren fan again.

    1. New regulations

      2022 (or later), @jens.

      1. Yes, that right….

        We are shooting at a moving target here :-)

  17. Huge boon for D-Ric. McLaren have some good synergy going on, from management to engineers and pit crew, Daniel bringing the big D energy will only motivate them further (always nice to have a proven race winner in your team).

    Renault have been a HUUUUGE disappointment the past couple of years – Absolutely no development in car performance, engine reliability, management or important hirings. Cyril being a miserable, sarky “blame everyone else” type just made the decision all the easier for Daniel, I’m sure.

    Sainz must know he’s going into Ferrari as a no. 2? I don’t doubt he’ll be more than capable of picking up the pieces when Charles has issues, but I suspect the usual Ferrari politics and pressure will quickly make him miss the relaxed, jovial environment McLaren were providing…

  18. Good, was a little worried they might want to get Vettel.

  19. Just from pure observation it was very noticeable that Dan wasn’t smiling often last year. Literally. He is not stupid, so I’d imagine he absolutely knew that his Renault will be quite a step back from Red Bull. So that wasn’t the major factor affecting his attitude. I think that quite simply he just wasn’t happy there – he felt out of place – it wasn’t his home. So I hope McLaren will be a different story. Somehow it feels more fitting.

    1. I suspect that some of his unhappiness wasn’t that he knew it would be a step back, but that the team weren’t able to take any steps forward. He was sold a bit of a lemon, really.

  20. I’m calling it now. I think Renault will pull out of F1 at the end of the year, they have no customers, their own team hasn’t been pulling in the results and they’re not good enough to keep a top dollar driver plus the pandemic and recession . If they stay I believe Hulk will be re-signed.

    1. Exactly @broke84. Losing a top driver might be the nail in the coffin in terms of the ‘project’ unless they can tempt Alonso back, which I can’t see happening. No other ‘regular car manufacturer’ is in F1 anymore probably for good reason.

    2. Agree completely

    3. Agree, but I think it will be the end of 2021
      Season because they’re driving this year cars.

      1. I dunno. We’re in an official recession here in France and Renault were always “evaluating their position” before the pandemic, what’s in it for them? Merc, Mac and Ferrari sell sports cars, or at least sporty family cars in mercs case( yes I know they sell other things, trucks and vans and buses etc) but Renault, what’s the first car you think of? A megane? clio? Zoé ? I just dont see what f1 truely does for the Renault brand except make people think they can’t compete with the big boys.

        1. My second prédiction is after Renault pull the plug, Ocon will go to Alfa and Giovinazzi will be dropped, Kimi will retire and Mick Schumacher will replace him.

  21. Fully expected, and I’m looking forward to the two funniest guys on the current grid as teammates, LOL.

  22. This could be an all time great move for RIC if Merc leave F1 in 2022 and go back to being McLaren’s works engine partner…

  23. I think this could be a good pairing and with McLaren’s upward projector think all is looking good.

    Just want to reply to those who think if Merc pulls out McLaren would be defacto works team …umm you do know Daimler Mercedes has invested and has shares with Aston Martin………………..nee Racing Point

    1. @mpt2201 I believe that Daimler only bought a 4% stake in Aston Martin back in 2013, which will be diluted to about 1% if the share issue by Aston Martin goes through.

      By that logic, you could argue that Mercedes will end up turning the Renault team into their works team – after all, Daimler has about the same sized stake in the Renault-Nissan alliance (3.1%) as it does in Aston Martin.

      1. Thats true but Racing point already has a Mercedes engine, the road going Aston Martins have a Mercedes engine and don’t forget Toto Wolff is a friend of Mr Stroll and we’ve all read those rumours…

  24. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    14th May 2020, 12:42

    Never really thought I’d become a bit of a fan of McLaren, but I rather like Ricciardo and Norris. I suppose whether they can focus on the job or they’ll just troll each other is a different question but it’s going to be fun to watch. The idea of stuffy, uptight McLaren fielding those two personalities… never thought that would happen.

    1. It’s a new era.

  25. Avocado with milk, anyone?

  26. Brilliant! So will this be the first time an Australian has driven with McLaren since Brabham was his teammate at Cooper…?

  27. pastaman (@)
    14th May 2020, 13:14

    Good for you Danny, I wouldn’t want to drive for Cyril either.

  28. Jockey Ewing
    14th May 2020, 13:19

    Nice pairing I like both, and they will be a good benchmark for eachother.
    I also hope then that Mercedes engine will be fitted really well.

    Ferrari made the decision suprisingly fast, I expected they doing so much later.

  29. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    14th May 2020, 16:04

    Kinda funny Renault say that reciprocated confidence, unity and commitment are critical values to them as a thinly-veiled dig at Ricciardo leaving while happily booting Hulkenberg out despite his confidence, unity and commitment…

    Guess they don’t like it when the shoe’s on the other foot.

    1. Especially when it’s damp from champagne and sweat.

  30. So I guess the veto Vettel had on Mr. Congeniality was for life, huh? 😜

    On a serious note, good for DannyRic! No one deserves being run by Abiteboul. For McLaren though, the responsibility grows a bit since RIC’s presence demands more substantial results. I feel their evolution will have to be steeper from now on.

    Good pairing, btw! It can work nicely. Norris as benchmark for one-lap pace, Ricciardo for race trim. Both can benefit from each other.

  31. would love to see what that arrogant SOB cyril has to say now!

  32. So it’s Vettel for Aston Martin or retirement then.

  33. Shame with Alonso and Ricciardo the best drivers end up without good cars

  34. A good move by Ricciardo. If McLaren finally manages to have a good car from 2021, he will have the opportunity to show his great capacity.
    He will make a good match with Albon, they are both two talented drivers.
    Good for McLaren.

  35. Ferrari will miss Vettel’s experience.

    For all the hype about Leclerc, his pace was only marginally better than a down in confidence and unhappy Vettel. Nothing really between them.

    Next year Leclerc has the pressure on his shoulders of being the number one driver.

    I can’t understand what Ricciardo is thinking? Maybe just went to Renault for the money and no intention of staying. It was always a bizarre decision that made no sense to leave a team capable of race wins to got to one that hasn’t won a race in a decade.

  36. Good news.

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