McLaren chief executive Zak Brown has revealed how he convinced Daniel Ricciardo to make the switch to his team for 2021 and the “monster” who helped make it happen.
After an unsuccessful bid to lure Ricciardo to McLaren two years earlier when the Aussie made the shock call to leave Red Bull for Renault, Brown said the addition of key off-track personnel – in particular team principal Andreas Seidl – had been a major factor in getting Ricciardo over the line this time around.
Brown said Ricciardo was a “huge fan” of Seidl, who was appointed McLaren team principal in early 2019, which helped sway the seven-time Grand Prix winner’s decision.
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The McLaren boss said the team didn’t have the form on-track – or the right pieces in place off it – last time to convince Ricciardo to make the move.
“A couple of years ago we were coming off a horrific season, one of our worst in McLaren history and really all I could do at that point was promise or make claims to Daniel on what my intentions were,” Brown told the In the Fast Lane podcast.
“But at that point it’s just words – ‘I’m going to get a great team principal, I’m going to get a great technical director, we’re going to get the resources we need’ … it was a lot of promises.
“Understandably he went all sounds good, but you are coming off one of the worst seasons in McLaren’s history and I think ultimately it didn’t get him over the line for those reasons.
“A year later, we have a very strong season, now I can say instead of saying I’m going to get a great team principal, I can say I got Andreas Seidl, who I think is making a huge difference in the team. I’m going to get a great technical director, I got one, James Key.
“(Ricciardo’s) a huge Andreas fan and I think that had a big part in his decision making progress as he says ‘Andreas is a monster’, and I think he means that in a good way.
“A year on he was able to see I put my money where my mouth was so to speak and the results were coming … that is ultimately why he made the decision this time around.”
Since the team’s last play for Ricciardo, McLaren finished fourth in the constructors’ championship in 2019 and this year sits third behind Mercedes and Red Bull Racing. McLaren driver Lando Norris is fourth in the drivers’ standings.
Ricciardo will join McLaren next year after two years at Renault. The Perth racer sits seventh in the drivers’ championship after his third fourth-place finish of the year in a chaotic Tuscan Grand Prix last weekend.
Brown said Carlos Sainz’s impending move to Ferrari in 2021 has been a win-win for the Spanish driver and McLaren, allowing it to snag Ricciardo.
“We had the ability to stop him (Sainz) from going to another team, but you know we have always wanted Dan Ricciardo,” Brown said.
“But it was one of those (times) where the stars aligned and Carlos had a desire to race for Ferrari, which is totally understandable.
“We obviously would have only allowed that if we felt we could get someone of Daniel’s ability and someone that we wanted a couple of years ago. So we said why don’t you go explore and we’ll explore and if you get the opportunity and we can get a seven-time Grand Prix winner then that’s going to work out well for all of us.
“I think we’ve got a great driver line-up and I think it’s only going to be stronger with Daniel and Lando.”
Brown predicted the delayed introduction of new technical regulations until the start of the 2022 season would benefit McLaren, which will switch to a Mercedes engine in 2021.
“The budget cap gets kicked in so now the new car everyone has to develop has to be developed under the budget cap, where had it debuted in ‘21, you spend so much money the previous year that those with unlimited budgets would have been able to outspend everyone and get a really big head start,” Brown said.
Originally published as The ‘monster’ at McLaren who helped snag Ricciardo