Ricciardo: Early decision to switch to McLaren 'weird'

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Renault F1 Team.
© XPB 

Daniel Ricciardo says that deciding to move to McLaren next season before the delayed 2020 season has even got underway feels very weird.

After just one season so far at Renault, Ricciardo last month announced that he would leave the French works team at the end of the year and move to McLaren, replacing Carlos Sainz who is taking over from Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari.

Ricciardo admitted that it had been a difficult call to make, given that he barely had any time in the new R.S.20 to gauge how the upcoming season might go due to the global disruption caused by coronavirus.

"Making these decisions with only testing to go by this year, that wasn’t easy," he acknowledged in a live F1 Instagram question-and-answer session.

"Ideally you’d like to get going, race and make your mind up. But we’re not in those times with that luxury," he admitted. “The whole year has been crazy for things even beyond coronavirus now.

“Having the time to think about things like the future was good, but then it also was not easy because you’ve got all this time but not much action. That was certainly difficult."

"It was not easy," he said of his choice to leave Renault and join McLaren. "Not an overnight decision. I guess I would just say this whole year has been weird and continues to be weird.”

The weirdness will continue for sometime, with F1 still struggling to pull together a full championship season in the face of the ongoing precautions and restrictions required to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

The virus led to the last-minute cancellation of Ricciardo's home race in Melbourne in March, since when the sport has been in shutdown awaiting developments.

It now looks highly likely that the season will finally get underway in July with a double-header at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria, followed by races in Hungary, Britain, Spain, Belgium and and Italy - a run of eight races in Europe over the course of just ten weeks.

“That’s the big relief for everyone, when they announced the official start date," Ricciardo commented. "It was like, ‘We can see the end of the tunnel and we can get going.'"

Even though he'll be going into the season opener already knowing he's leaving the team, Ricciardo insisted he would still be doing his best for Renault in their final races together.

“I want to finish this journey and chapter with Renault off in the best way possible," he said.

"I still feel like I owe a lot to them on- and off-track, so I’m glad we can compete soon and {I'll] do what I can."

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Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, McLaren