Ricciardo to join McLaren in 2021

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Daniel Ricciardo will join McLaren for the 2021 Formula One season, the team confirmed on Thursday, taking the place of Ferrari-bound Carlos Sainz.

Australian driver Ricciardo is in the final year of his Renault deal and had looked to be a frontrunner to replace Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari after this week's news the German will not sign a contract extension. However, Ferrari moved swiftly to sign Sainz, in a deal also set to be on Thursday.

Ricciardo will partner Lando Norris, who the team has confirmed will remain for a third season in 2021.

Zak Brown said the signing is another statement of McLaren's intent to return to winning ways of the past.

"Signing Daniel is another step forward in our long-term plan and will bring an exciting new dimension to the team, alongside Lando. This is good news for our team, partners and of course our fans," Brown said, before paying tribute to Sainz.

"I also want to pay tribute to Carlos for the excellent job he has been doing for McLaren in helping our performance recovery plan. He is a real team player and we wish him well for his future beyond McLaren."

Vettel's next move remains uncertain, although retirement after 2020 appears to be the most likely outcome at this stage.

Ricciardo came close to signing for McLaren in 2018 but opted for Renault. At the time he had doubts about McLaren's readiness to return to the front of the pecking order, but last season he watched the Woking team comfortably beat Renault to fourth position in the championship.

McLaren is on an upwards trajectory and Ricciardo's move will coincide with a switch to using Mercedes engines.

Renault simply said its contract renewal discussions with Ricciardo had been unsuccessful. Team boss Cyril Abiteboul said: "In our sport, and particularly within the current extraordinary situation, reciprocated confidence, unity and commitment are, more than ever, critical values for a works team."