Daniel Ricciardo had a great season last year with Renault, bagging a couple of podiums. He is replacing Carlos Sainz at McLaren, who himself had quite a successful stint during his two-year stay with the team, which earned him a Ferrari seat.
The 31-year-old Daniel Ricciardo joins the McLaren team amidst an upheaval in form, as the woking-based unit finished 2020 as the third-best constructor on the grid. That was a welcome return to glory for McLaren after years of toil and ambiguity since their last Constructors' win in 2012.
Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren - a partnership made in heaven?
The question though, for both Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren. has to be the same. Can the driver and the team realise their mutual goal of getting to the front?
McLaren have made steady progress since their rather acrimonious divorce with Honda. They will now be joining forces yet again with Mercedes as the engine supplier - a move that should be a step up from the Renault engine used last year. That should aid the McLaren team in closing the gap on the leading teams.
The question though, is where does the team go from here? Andreas Seidl has been putting the pieces back in place ever since he became a part of the woking outfit. That has helped McLaren gain some of its competitive edge back. But will it ever be able to challenge the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull?
If the current Formula 1 regulations had continued, the answer to that question would have been 'no'. That is because McLaren doesn't have the kind of spending power it used to anymore, and considering the chasm between Mercedes and the rest, it's hard to expect any team to bridge that gap.
However, with regulations changing in 2022 and budget cuts being introduced amidst a renewed focus on efficiency, McLaren have a great chance of closing the gap to the front.
The only piece of the puzzle they lacked in 2020 was the driver. In Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris, McLaren had a competitive driver lineup. But was that the kind of lineup that could have won them championships?
Lando Norris was a young prospect who is still improving while Carlos Sainz was a dependable and solid driver but was outshone by Max Verstappen and Nico Hulkenberg in the past.
This is where Daniel Ricciardo comes into the scene. The Australian is, without a doubt, one of the best drivers on the grid, as he dragged his Renault to places it probably didn't deserve last year.
Ricciardo is arguably the driver who could be the right guy at the right place if McLaren can put together a car capable of wins in 2021. That is also the best-case scenario for the driver as well if he has to fight for championships.
At 31, Daniel Ricciardo doesn't have too many years in his kitty. With spots in almost all the top teams already occupied, Daniel Ricciardo has to put all his eggs in the McLaren basket and hope for the best.
Can Daniel Ricciardo lead the McLaren team back to its halcyon days? Only time will tell.Published 11 Jan 2021, 23:40 IST