Recently, the British team presented its McLaren MCL35M car for the 2021 season. The name of the car remained the same. The letter M was added to symbolize the transition to Mercedes powerplants. Basically, MCL35M is an evolution of last year’s car with improvements in terms of powerplant and aerodynamics. The colour of the livery remained the same, there were only a few differences due to the arrival of new sponsors. Changes occurred not only in the car but also in the composition of the drivers. Carlos Sainz Jr signed a contract with Ferrari, and Daniel Ricciardo came in his place. Let’s see what the Australian driver can give to the British team and vice versa.
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Today, Daniel Ricciardo is one of the most promising drivers in Formula 1. He came to the championship 1 in 2011 and raced for the HRT team. Then he spent 2 seasons at Toro Rosso. And after he was chosen by Christian Horner to be a new driver for Red Bull. Initially, Daniel served as a test driver, but after successful performances at Toro Rosso, he was offered a permanent position at Red Bull. And in 2014, he replaced his compatriot Mark Webber in the team.
Daniel found himself in the difficult conditions from the first day. He became the teammate of Sebastian Vettel – already a 4-time world champion at that time! Drivers, even the most mediocre, are extremely confident. But pressure is one of the factors that can ruin everything – even for drivers who have good speed by default. And we know how important results are at Red Bull and how much pressure there is in the team. Ricciardo has already proved at that time that he is ready to give 100%, and despite the problems of Red Bull with the reliability of the engines in pre-season tests, he immediately became second at the home Grand Prix. Overall, Daniel had a convincing debut season in this team, with three wins and seven podium finishes. As a result – the third place in the championship. He conquered the world of Formula 1 with his attitude, charisma and smile. Daniel became one of the brightest drivers of the peloton.
He achieved 7 victories, 3 pole positions, 29 times was on the podium during those years at Red Bull. In 2016, he also finished 3rd in the final standings of the championship. And looking at these statistics, you can ask the question, what was wrong? What happened in 2018?
I think this is the best chance to achieve my goal. I didn’t come to Formula 1 just to compete here. I came with the desire to become a world champion, and it is still with me. With the way McLaren is progressing, this is where I might have the best chance of becoming a world champion. You never know, but I’m sure I’m in the right place. You could see the McLaren adding. I feel that I can become the element that McLaren lacked to win.
When Daniel Ricciardo decided to leave Red Bull at the end of 2018 and signed a two-year contract with Renault, it became a sensation for the Formula 1 world. Why did this event become so unexpected and what was hidden behind this decision? In the first version, Dan left because Red Bull had Max Verstappen. We can argue as much as we like that the drivers had the same support and equal chances for the title. But it was already more profitable for Red Bull to win the championship title with Max Verstappen. Helmut Marko once said: “Our next goal is to make Max the youngest world champion in history.”
We can assume that Ricciardo’s decision was purely personal. The second version is the Honda engines. As funny as it sounds right now, Dan was extremely sceptical about the team’s transition from Renault engines to Honda ones. In addition, the money factor also played a role.
So, what about Renault? Initially, the team set itself the task of returning the car to the top of Formula 1, even considering its modest budget compared to the top teams. 2019 is not a good year for either the team or Ricciardo. But it certainly was an important year to understand everything, and in 2020, Renault already looked more confident: 3 podiums, 2 of which were from Dan, 5th place in the WCC for both the team and Ricciardo in the individual standings. What a rebirth! Perhaps Renault’s plans are destined to come true? Maybe, but without Dan. After all, in 2021, he will be driving for McLaren, a team that has begun to show hopes of returning to the top of the peloton. McLaren finished the 2020 season in 3rd place in the Constructors’ Championship.
The move to McLaren is a confirmation of his championship ambitions. He has already won races. Now Dan needs a title. He went through the pressure at Red Bull, playing alongside the world champion, young ambitious drivers, tasted feeling of victory and defeat, became more experienced and ambitious, and Daniel did not lose his charisma.
Daniel Ricciardo said that the contract with the new team is signed for three seasons. He believes that in the new team, he may have the best chance in his career to compete for the world title: “I think this is the best chance to achieve my goal. I didn’t come to Formula 1 just to compete here. I came with the desire to become a world champion, and it is still with me. With the way McLaren is progressing, this is where I might have the best chance of becoming a world champion. You never know, but I’m sure I’m in the right place. You could see the McLaren adding. I feel that I can become the element that McLaren lacked to win.”
The move to McLaren is a confirmation of his championship ambitions. He has already won races. Now Dan needs a title. He went through the pressure at Red Bull, playing alongside the world champion, young ambitious drivers, tasted feeling of victory and defeat, became more experienced and ambitious, and Daniel did not lose his charisma. In addition, to win the title, it is important not only the desire but the relationship in the team. And we have seen how warm the atmosphere is at McLaren. He has a great teammate – Lando Norris, with whom they are close in spirit. And the team believes in him and knows that he has good prospects to show excellent results. Maybe Daniel is really the element that the team needs to win.