Daniel Ricciardo in talks with Ferrari for 'years' over move before joining McLaren

The 30-year-old Australian will leave Renault at the end of the 2020 season

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Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo has revealed he was in talks with Ferrari for years over a possible move to the Italian team before signing a contract to join McLaren for the 2021 season.

The 30-year-old Australian will leave Renault for McLaren from where Carlos Sainz has been signed to replace four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who will leave Ferrari at the end of this season.

"There have been discussions already from a few years back. And that continued all the way through to now," Ricciardo told CNN of his talks with Ferrari. "I won't deny that. But obviously it's never really come to fruition.

"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."

Ricciardo only joined Renault for the start of last season after five seasons with Red Bull. However, it was a miserable campaign for the Australian who failed to secure a single podium.

He ended the championship down in ninth place, his worst finish since his Toro Rosso days in 2013. Renault finished fifth in the constructors' championship, 54 points behind McLaren.

The 2020 Formula One season is yet to get underway due to the coronavirus pandemic. The first 10 races of the year have been either postponed or cancelled, with F1 organisers targeting Austria on July 5 as the first race.