Daniel Ricciardo says he hit it off well with McLaren during his exploratory talks with management last summer, but he ultimately dismissed the team's offer for 2019 because of its insufficient potential for success.
Ricciardo spent the better part of the first half of last year's season pondering his future and weighing his options which included staying at Red Bull, or contemplating a move to either Renault or McLaren.
Speaking to RACER's Chris Medland, the Aussie opened up about his negotiations with the Woking-based outfit, admitting to taking a liking to McLaren's discourse and friendly atmosphere.
"McLaren, as a group – I had a couple of meetings with them – and I thought they were really cool people," he said.
"Definitely as personnel I like them a lot. Not that I don’t like Red Bull or anyone else, but I had a really positive vibe with them.
"But obviously, they’ll admit it, they’re just not there yet, and it just seemed probably a bit too optimistic to go there at that point. So that kind of eliminated them.
"Then Renault we were kind of talking to a bit, and eventually it just kind of clicked for me and I was like ‘Alright, so it’s a works team, progress they’ve made is good, it’s two years and a solid deal’."
In hindsight, Ricciardo feels that on an affinity level, McLaren would have perhaps been his first choice, while Renault's package made more sense in the near term.
"I think if it was completely personal then McLaren would have been as attractive as anyone. But there was still obviously a big chunk of performance there," candidly said the Honey Badger.
"The presentation and everything that Renault put forward, it seemed… We all know they’ve still got work to do with chassis and engine, but what they showed me, what they’ve done the last two years, when they put it on paper it all added up, and their trajectory seems realistic if that makes sense. It just seemed like it could work.
"It just seemed like the right fit, and I was like ‘You know what? That’s it’. It got to that point as well where what I really felt I just need a change, and just to break the routine, really."