Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo, of Australia, poses for a photograph with a fan during an autograph session at the F1 Canadian Grand Prix auto race Image Credit: AP

Dubai: McLaren’s brand-new signing Daniel Ricciardo has vouched he will give his best to his new team starting with the first race of the season in the first week of July.

In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Amanda Davies, Ricciardo further admitted that he could have also been wearing the Ferrari red, until he came up with a certainty to join McLaren over the Turin-based Italian outfit.

“There have been discussions already from a few years back. And that continued all the way through to now. Obviously it’s not an overnight decision. I put a lot of thought into all of it. The discussions with McLaren go back to even before, I guess, 2018, and I guess continued over time,” Ricciardo told CNN.

“I certainly know that I still owe a lot to Renault and I want to do that, not only for myself, but for them. And after the news, it was actually really nice. I received a lot of positive feedback from people in the team. And I know that they’re excited for me to fulfil the rest of the year with them, try and do as best as possible and hopefully win as many races as possible.”

Earlier this month, Australian Ricciardo surprised all while admitting that he will have his salary slashed in half once he moves from Renault to McLaren at the end of the 2020 season. The 30-year-old driver surprised many when McLaren announced that he was taking Carlos Sainz’s soon-to-be-vacant seat with the Spaniard moving to Ferrari in place of German Sebastian Vettel.

There was talk a few years back that Ricciardo may move to Ferrari. But, that move didn’t materialise, making the Aussie shift his focus to the iconic British team McLaren, who had in fact made a pitch in 2018.

Ricciardo picked Renault’s mega-money offer then and things went on as normal until McLaren chief Zak Brown re-ignited talks in recent weeks and this time managed to get his man.

“There have been discussions already from a few years back. And that continued all the way through to now. So yeah, I won’t deny that. But obviously it’s never really come to fruition,” Ricciardo said.

“I try not to get emotionally caught up in any kind of situation. I see how Carlos is a fit for the team. So, I don’t really look at it like ‘Why not me?’ I just look at it: Yeah, Carlos had a very strong 2019. Yeah, he’s a bit of hot property right now, and I guess it’s a good fit for where they are at.”

Ricciardo also shared his views on Vettel’s future in the sport, while insisting he believes his former teammate will want to continue despite being edged out from Ferrari after a series of errors behind the wheel damaged his reputation.

“I don’t want to say the writing was on the wall, but a few of those incidents made this news slightly less traumatic,” Ricciardo said.

“If I know him well enough, I believe he’s still hungry and competitive enough to want to continue. Also, because he’s still older than me. So, it makes me not the oldest guy,” he joked.

“I like Seb. Obviously, I had him as a teammate, but as a competitor he brings something to our sport. He’s one of the very few if not the only one that isn’t active on social media, and he’s one of the most successful people ever in our sport, yet he’s one of the most private. And even that in itself brings a lot of mystery behind him.”