McLaren chief Brown understands Ricciardo snub in 2018
- Daniel Ricciardo picked Renault over McLaren when he left Red Bull in 2018 and with the benefit of hindsight Zak Brown understands why.
McLaren chief Zak Brown understands why Daniel Ricciardo previously turned them down for Renault but feels confident he can take the team to the next level after agreeing to join from the 2021 Formula One season.
Ricciardo chose Renault over McLaren when he decided to leave Red Bull at the end of the 2018 campaign, but his hopes of becoming a world champion moved no closer in a disappointing year with the French outfit.
The Australian 30-year-old managed just eight points finishes across the entire season, finishing ninth in the drivers' standings.
With Carlos Sainz agreeing to take up the Ferrari seat Sebastian Vettel will vacate at the end of the year, Ricciardo will finally move to McLaren and Brown believes a change in the team's structure proved key to securing his signature.
"Getting a grand prix winner like Daniel definitely is a sign we're going in the right direction. He believes in that," Brown told Sky Sports.
"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 and he went, '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 brought in yet [team principal] Andreas Seidl or [technical director] James Key or restructured the leadership team. So there were a lot of promises and, coming off such a bad season, I can see how he would go, 'Oh, let's see how this plays out.'
"He likes how it's played out, I've liked how it's played out. He's seen 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 and I think he's going to help get us to the next level."
Just dropping a nice photo on your TL. pic.twitter.com/spsyPWjT2s— McLaren (@McLarenF1) May 16, 2020
Brown suggested reports Ricciardo will earn £31million per year are wide of the mark but insists McLaren have spent wisely.
"I think he's definitely worth it otherwise we wouldn't have done it. What's been reported [on wages] is not accurate, but he is a very well-paid driver. I think he's worth it," said Brown.
"He's won seven grands prix, and I think in the right car he's capable of winning a championship immediately.
"He's extremely marketable from a commercial standpoint. He's a very exciting driver and I think the combination of he and Lando [Norris] will be awesome, they'll be the fan favourites on and off the track.
"If I look back at the history of McLaren, it's been some time since we haven't had either one or two world champions in the team, and not having grands prix winners in the team.
"I think it's definitely a step forward for us on our journey to have a grand prix winner on our team."