McLaren CEO Zak Brown believes signing Daniel Ricciardo will elevate the team’s success ‘to the next level’ in 2021.
Earlier this week Ricciardo was confirmed to join McLaren next year to replace incumbent Carlos Sainz.
Sainz’s move to Scuderia Ferrari comes after Sebastian Vettel announced his departure from the team.
Ricciardo will join Lando Norris, whose place at the team next year was also confirmed with the announcement of the Australian’s signing.
Speaking on Sky Sports F1, Brown said he had approached the Perth pilot for a move to the Woking-based team before he eventually moved to Renault.
Ricciardo’s move to the French outfit hasn’t seen him succeed thus far.
Meanwhile, McLaren beat its engine supplier Renault to fourth in the Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship in 2019.
“Getting a grand prix winner like Daniel is a sign that we’re going in the right direction, he believes in that,” said Brown.
“We went after him a couple of years ago before he made the decision not to join us. I’ve talked to him about it since.
“He went ‘well, you were coming off a pretty poor season’ which was putting it politely, but also there was a lot of ‘this is what we’re going to do to rebuild the team’.
“I hadn’t yet brought in Andreas (Seidl) or James Key or restructured the leadership team.
“There were a lot of promises and coming off such a bad season I could see how he would go… ‘let’s see how this plays out’.”
Brown believes those fundamental changes to the team structure and the success the team had in 2019 were enough to push Ricciardo over the line and sign with McLaren.
Next year the team will keep its current chassis, but will move from Renault-supplied power units to Mercedes.
“I think he’s seen with the changes we’ve made, the leadership Andreas has brought, the backing we have from our shareholders, going to the Mercedes engine, we’re a team on the move,” said Brown.
“I think he’s going to get us to the next level.”
This year’s Formula 1 season is earmarked for an early July resumption with back-to-back events at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.
Ricciardo will race alongside Esteban Ocon of France at Renault in this year’s championship.