After the stunning revelation earlier this month that Sebastian Vettel would be leaving Scuderia Ferrari at the end of 2020, Daniel Ricciardo told CNN that he’s had discussions with Ferrari over the last few years, but nothing came of it. He believes that Carlos Sainz is a ''good fit'' for them at the present time.
"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."
"I don't know actually [why he's never joined Ferrari] and I've never really chose to dive too deep into it. Everyone says it would be a good fit, obviously, with my name [Italian descent in his family] and all the background stuff, but yeah, 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."
For 2021, the man from Perth will switch from Renault to McLaren. Once again, he admitted he had been talking with McLaren for a number of years before agreeing to join the Woking-based team for next year.
"I guess no decision is ever black and white. And I can't actually give you a black and white answer. There wasn't any moment, which was like a light bulb and said, 'Yes, that's what I need to do.' Equally, there wasn't something I saw in McLaren, which created that or there wasn't something in Renault, which created the moment of 'I have to move on.'
"The discussions with McLaren go back to even before, I guess, 2018, and I guess continued over time. Obviously it's not an overnight decision.’’
While Ricciardo says Vettel leaving Ferrari at the end of 2020 isn’t a massive shock following incidents with teammate Charles Leclerc last year, he thinks Vettel is hungry to continue in the sport and hopes the German does as well.
"I don't want to say the writing was on the wall [Vettel departing], but a few of those incidents [with Leclerc] made this news slightly less traumatic."
"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.’’
"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."