McLaren warn Ricciardo not to expect a "championship-calibre car" in 2021
Daniel Ricciardo has been warned he will not be driving "a championship-calibre car" when he joins McLaren for the 2021 season.
Ricciardo recently took a gamble as he will leave Renault at the end of this year and join McLaren on a multi-year contract from next season, a move even he has conceded that only "time will tell" if it was the right one.
Despite McLaren's rise up to fourth in the constructors' standings last year, McLaren CEO Zak Brown has already expressed concern his team may be unable to hold on to that position this season given the midfield threat from Racing Point and Renault, in particular.
With the cars to now remain unchanged going into next year, it means the pecking order in 2020 is unlikely to alter too much in 2021, meaning it will not be until 2022 that McLaren takes a crack at the 'big three' when new regulations come into effect.
"I think Daniel is a championship-calibre driver today," said Brown, speaking on a Sky F1 Vodcast. "I don't think we'll quite give him a championship-calibre car in 2021.
"We're still on our road to recovery, but I think we'll give him a competitive car, and then in 2022 let's see what happens."
The one bonus for McLaren given the lack of change from this year through to next is that the departing Carlos Sainz, who has signed a two-year contract with Ferrari from next year, will be firmly kept in the loop on any developments.
"We're racing together in '20, we want to have a lot of success together in '20," added Brown. "He's a professional, we're professionals.
"I think if you start holding back information then you are not going to have a successful 2020 together, so I think we've got to focus on 2020, maximising it. I think holding back is not productive.
"And our '21 car is going to look like '20. If the '21 car had been a brand new car, you then find yourself in an uncomfortable situation in sharing information on next year's car.
"But next year's car is effectively going to be this year's car, so I'm not concerned about the integrity of Carlos."
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