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Daniel Ricciardo reveals Ferrari talks went on 'for years' before McLaren switch

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SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 11: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari and Daniel Ricciardo of

Could Daniel Ricciardo have been Ferrari’s pick to partner Charles Leclerc for 2021? The Renault driver has now admitted that he did hold talks with the Scuderia about joining the team – and even revealed discussions on a possible move had started “a few years back”.

The month of May saw a burst of driver market news after Ferrari announced Sebastian Vettel was to leave the team at the end of the year. Then speculation raged over Vettel’s successor – with Ricciardo tipped as a front runner – before Carlos Sainz was announced as taking the seat.

That, in turn, prompted Ricciardo’s move to McLaren, but the Australian driver told CNN that he was in the running to join Ferrari before they plumped for Sainz.

READ MORE: 2019 was Vettel’s best season in F1, says former Ferrari man Smedley

Ricciardo said: "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."

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Alluding to his background – Ricciardo’s father was born in Italy – the driver explained that he tried not to think about the cultural associations with the team.

"Everyone says it would be a good fit, obviously, with my name and all the background stuff, but yeah, I try not to get emotionally caught up in any kind of situation."

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And he added he can see why Ferrari went for Sainz in the end.

"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."

Ferrari weren't the only ones to plan ahead, however, as McLaren boss Zak Brown recently admitted that they'd courted Ricciardo for years ahead of his 2021 move to the team, in another glimpse behind the curtain into the machinations that go on in the mysterious driver market.

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