The familiar problem which is putting Ricciardo’s McLaren future in doubt

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In Monaco, Daniel Ricciardo looked a far cry from the happy-go-lucky ‘honey badger’ we’ve grown to know and love.

He crossed the line 13th, seven places behind his McLaren team mate Lando Norris. Ricciardo’s poor form, which began last year and has shown little sign of improving, has prompted questions surrounding his future, just seven races into the season. Not least due to pointed comments from McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown the week before.

Ricciardo’s future looked promising when he joined McLaren last season. The team signalled their commitment by signing him to a three-year contract which should keep him in orange until the end of next season.

When Ricciardo arrived, Brown gushed that they had “an incredibly exciting” driver line-up and that both drivers were “formidable racers on-track and great characters off-track”.

But the results proved hard to come by for Ricciardo. Despite a win in Monza, he was out-qualified by Norris 15 times in 2021, finishing 45 points behind in the drivers’ championship. Over the first six races of this season Norris amassed 39 points, including another podium, while Ricciardo’s 11 was less than Kevin Magnussen had accumulated in his Haas.

Speculation mounted that he may not see out his contract at McLaren following comments made by Brown in the week ahead of the race in Monaco. After Ricciardo’s 12th place in Barcelona, Brown told Sky: “We would obviously like to see Daniel much closer to Lando and have a good inter-team battle.”

“Daniel is just not comfortable yet with the car, we’re trying everything we can,” Brown continued. “Again it was a disappointing weekend.

“Short of Monza and a few races, it’s generally not kind of met his or our expectations, as far as what we were expecting.

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“And I think all you can do is keep working hard as a team, keep communications going, keep pushing and hope that whatever is not kind of clicking at the moment clicks shortly.”

Responding directly to the comments from his boss during the press conference in Monaco, Ricciardo used his trademark humour to reflect on the seriousness of the situation, graciously answering the question.

“Well, it’s not false. It’s pretty true,” he said. “Firstly, comments like that I don’t take personally. My skin is tanned, beautiful and also thick.

“But no one’s going to be harder on me than myself. I know that I don’t want to be racing around in 10th, 12th places.

“I still believe I can be at the front, and belong at the front, so, it’s been a little bit more testing at times in terms of obviously trying to get up and maximise myself in this car.

“We’re working together hard at it and the team wants it, I want it and we’re just working through it.”

When pushed on more details regarding his contract length, Ricciardo added coyly: “It’s a three-year. So, end of ’23. And then… yeah, there’s, yeah… let’s say that.”

Arriving in Monaco, Ricciardo had finished ahead of Norris just twice in 2022. Matter did not improve in the principality. Ricciardo crashed heavily during practice and went out in Q2, almost seven-tenths of a second off his team mate, dooming him to circulate outside the points on Sunday. More salt to the wound.

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There now seems a distinct possibility Ricciardo may not see out his McLaren deal. Speaking ahead of a visit to the Indianapolis 500, Brown reportedly said there were “mechanisms” in Ricciardo’s contract through which their commitment to each other could change.

Who could McLaren replace him with? Alpine offered its reserve driver Oscar Piastri to McLaren when Ricciardo was ill during testing, and is keen to find him a race seat for next year. Pato O’Ward, who finished runner up in the Indy 500 for McLaren SP, may also be a viable option, superlicence points depending.

Can Ricciardo turn things around before it comes to that? The pressure is on the 32-year-old’s shoulders to find answers to the problem he has been working on since last season.

He has been scrutinising his team mate’s data in search of answers to where he is missing out. Speaking after his early exit from qualifying on Saturday in Monaco, Ricciardo described where he feels he is missing out.

“It’d be nice if I said, ‘oh, it’s just one corner or whatever’,” he explained. “But it’s just that incremental gains that I guess Lando – but to be honest the whole field – is able to make through Q2 and then into Q3.

“For me to get up to that, or to push my car on the limit and to get it out of myself, it’s still a little bit of difficulty or a battle.”

It’s a worryingly familiar situation to what Ricciardo went though in his first year at McLaren, he admitted. “It’s now really just trying to keep picking it apart and I’ll also try and learn from last year like this is unfortunately known territory from 12 months ago.”

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Ricciardo’s faith in himself is impressively unshaken in the face of this latest setback. “Even after a day like today, have 100% belief in myself and ability. So [that] probably makes the result like this hurt more.

“So, that’s kind of where I feel or how I feel. It’s one of those things you just got to keep going. I would love to be in a different position, but I refuse to let it beat me down.”

Formula One is a mental game. For all the immense skill shown by drivers, history has proven they don’t perform if their head is not in the right place. McLaren have a tough choice in front of them if Ricciardo’s form does not improve, and the growing speculation will not help.

The harsh reality is that Ricciardo is not performing at his best and he, the team and his boss know that. All concerned would clearly rather see this resolved by Ricciardo rediscovering the form of his Red Bull and Renault years. But the past weeks have shown McLaren are beginning to think about what they do if that doesn’t happen.

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Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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88 comments on “The familiar problem which is putting Ricciardo’s McLaren future in doubt”

  1. I think he will be dropped Next year and that will be a sad thing for me (and Riccardo)

    1. Dan still has time to turn things around before he dropped, maybe a summer break with Alonso would get the fire burning back in his belly.
      Alonso is truly astounding, always wanting to out preform his teams and still driving at 10/10s

    2. It would be an enormous pity indeed but based on his Renault and McLaren performance it is becoming difficult to conclude otherwise. Part of the challenge when regarding Ricciardo is that expectations have been set too high since he was compared to Vettel, a 4xWDC, whom in hindsight appeared not all that (because he was hugely flattered by his car) but some still don’t see that. Imho he is perfect for a Bottas, Massa, Barrichello, Perez role. Should a team seek that they would do themselves a huge favor by hiring him.

      1. I think his Renault performances were fine, on the whole. He effectively ended Hulkenberg’s career, who many considered to be a very decent driver, and also saw off the challenge of Ocon, who is a little hard to rate, but is also generally considered to be Ok.
        His current performances in the McLaren look to be amongst the worst of anyone, sadly.

        1. Ricciardo used to be a late braker, dive-into-the-corner, car rotation master. After he got the Renault to his taste, he smoked his teammate for good.

          Now maybe Norris has a different style, an early braker like Verstappen. That’s about it. He just didn’t “loose it” suddenly. No traumatic event. It’s a car thing like Perez last year…

          I can see Brown drawing a blueprint to switch Ricciardo for O’Ward or Herta, with a little help from Liberty. The honey badger to Indy, an north American to F1.


      2. Great post Maytron.

        I don’t see why others can’t see it. Retrospectively, we can now see that he wasn’t as good as the hype.

        If you put his results into a computer that then rated him with those he’s raced with, he would indeed be seen as a Bottas, Massa etc.

        I like Riccardo and so was bewitched by this ‘he’s as good as anyone’ nonsense. It’s simply hit me recently, that he simply isn’t.

      3. He pushed Max to aggravation, he has only had strong teammates and Lando is the first to do distinctly better. So, I think that’s a completely inaccurate portrayal. BTW, before someone tries to suggest it, Max was not a rookie and the greats are always as fast as rookies as they are as veterans. So, unless Lando is way better than Max and Lewis, I am willing to be there’s something in the McLaren chassis that is simply incompatible with Daniel.

        BTW, has McLaren tried swapping DR’s chassis with the spare? Sometimes the spare makes zero difference, but sometimes it does and the team later find some hard to detect defect that actually did make a difference.

    3. F1 teams are so short sighted. Unless McLaren already has a driver who is not only a mega talent AND bringing a ton of sponsorship (I could actually see Alonso bringing a one year type package of that type and I know Zak liked FA), it makes more sense to just get behind Daniel and see the contract through, especially since McLaren is far from challenging for victories at the moment.

      If he can though, he should move to another team (provided it’s not HAAS, Williams, AT), as it’s clear the McLaren design philosophy just does not suit DR. After all, a driver’s talent doesn’t just disappear over night.

  2. Electroball76
    1st June 2022, 13:58

    Lando & Ric pairing is as one-sided as Bottas & Zhou, or Kevin & Mick.
    Difference is that Lando is supposed to be the “rookie” of that pairing.

    1. With 67 race starts for Lando, I don’t think the term “rookie” still applies, even with the quotation marks.
      He has done more races in F1 than 85% of the drivers that have ever raced in F1.

      Of course Dan has more experience but I don’t think that should really be a differentiating factor between both of them.

  3. I struggle to see how such a quality driver could end up like this. Hypothetically, it could literally just be the car does not suit him but still I doubt a top team would hire him since the same might occur again. If he leaves McLaren I hope he goes on to be champion in multiple other series rather than becoming an F1 backmarker.

    1. He looks horrendously bad at McLaren. He does not use the whole track, he is meek under braking, generally there is no attitude in his driving looks like he is going out for a stroll. Last year at Monaco he looked like himself but the stopwatch showed his driving style simply does not suit the McLaren. He only matched Lando in spain last year when both were slow and he matched Lando at Monza which is low downforce.
      Like last year McLaren, Aston, Alpha are 3 cars that don’t turn, I think it is a driving style thing, I don’t want to take credit away from Lando but he was average against a know slow driver in Sainz jr until something clicked and he thrashed sainz jr as any good driver should around Abu Dhabi, since then Lando looks ominous on the McLaren and Daniel embarrassing.

      1. Sainz a known slow driver? Sorry what?
        Sainz id up against one of the top 2 or 3 fastest guys in F1 currently and definitely not been slow. Slower, but not slow. (And yes his season so far is quite bad with all the pressure). But I think calling Sainz a slow driver is a bit much.

        1. Not to mention norris was a rookie there, there’s nothing suggesting he’s not verstappen level.

          1. I can think of many things why there is a huge gap… But maybe Norris is that good?

      2. LOL! I love the way that in order to hype up Riccardo his fans forget that both Verstappen, who he initially matched and Norris who they want to imply is ‘ordinary’, i.e. so they can blame the car, were both rookies during these spells.

        Verstappen is light years better than he was in even 2018. That great battle with Russell, at Barcelona, would have ended with both on the grass or worse, back then.

        Norris simply improves with each race and now has to be ranked, if he can lose that self-doubt he has, as a genuine future F1 WDC.

        Daniel getting smoked by a driver who is simply better and at the equivalent age, more talented than him.

  4. I hope he can improve, but in case he can’t, & consequently, Mclaren terminates his 3-year deal, I see the following drivers as replacement options:
    Pato & Herta, who both should reach the remaining SL points this year, & Gasly if he ends his RB relationship a year early, now that any repromotion chance is effectively over.
    I’m more uncertain about Piastri, but better not entirely rule out anyone as anything’s possible in F1 generally.

    1. Now that Perez got a contract extension (untill and including 2024) at Red Bull, I think Gasly is the most likely candidate to replace Ricciardo.

      1. Hadnt thought of that. I think it would benefit Gasly, but not McLaren so much. Gasly has talent but limited consistency/maturity. I like the analogy Peter Windsor makes on him practicing, before race start, with the dropping balls and he then catches them. Peter states that is how he drives, reactively rather than proactively (he should be juggling them instead). I know RedBull analyses a lot of driver data and them not promoting him is something to take into consideration whether you agree with them or not, there is apparently something holding them back.

    2. I suppose Zak would have either Pato or Herta (or both) in their mandated young driver runs in the remainders of the season and look whether they’re up to it.

      If it doesn’t look promising, then Gasly will be contender

    3. @jerejj

      I see the following drivers as replacement options:
      Pato & Herta, who both should reach the remaining SL points this year,

      I honestly don’t see that ever happening the way things are now. McLaren has invested & financed massively to get where they are; they’re now in a position to challenge the top three teams for WDC points. I don’t see any way to (realistically) up-sell how unproven indy drivers could improve McLaren’s position in F1 (other than marketing to US fans). The next driver at McLaren has to be contending for top three results in Quali and in the race; that’s the objective. I just don’t see how McLaren could take on that risk, they can’t afford it (literally). The DNF’s and damage they’re experiencing right now is effecting their budget and ability to compete against the top three. Taking on unproven or paid drivers is more of a mid field or lower finishing team; exactly the opposite direction that McLaren want to head.

      I think Gasly is the most likely candidate to replace Ricciardo.


      I was thinking the same thing and I understand Gasly has a clause in contract that he can leave RB-AT if they don’t promote him and they have already given him permission to speak to other teams. But, Gasly seems to be going through the same issues as Daniel with the new chassis design. Why would McLaren choose another driver with same possible issues? I do think it would be cool to see the pairing of Lando & Gasly. His next couple of races and how he does the rest of this season will be critical for his future. He also needs to beat his teammate overall in the WDC.

      Another driver I don’t hear being mentioned is Nyck de Vries, he’s a Mercedes driver looking for a seat, Merc is not going to give him one if Ham stays on. I could see him given a two year contract at McLaren that could benefit all three parties. He is a F2 World Champion and FE World Champion. There’s not many drivers with that resume that will be available next year. The difficulties entering the F1 eco system for him wouldn’t nearly be as difficult or as risky as having American drivers trying their hand at a F1 car and expect do well.

      Sadly, I don’t see Piastri at all going to McLaren with any contract more than a year, his handlers probably already want to him for themselves if Alonso leaves.

      It will be interesting to see how it all pans out

  5. He hasn’t lost his physical ability to drive he seems to have lost confidence in his ability to push to his limits. I have had to interview many people after incidents who swear blind they were 100% doing their job, but after some digging it was clear they weren’t.
    It always came back to something going on that distracted them or constrained them leading to a loss of focus. Which in turn leads to an inability to perform at their best. That opens the gate to more mistakes or backing off so as not to make the mistakes.

    1. @johnrkh this seems quite likely doesn’t it. It’s a disappointing state of affairs for him and the team. It’s difficult to see what might be holding him back. A loss of focus yes but why? it might be something purely personal that we would never know about.

      I really hope Daniel can start to pull things around and at least get some results good enough to keep him at McLaren next season. I am very sure he has the ability to do this.

      1. Yeah good comments. We know he can drive, so to me I think it must have a lot to do with his inability right now to get to where he is confident to throw the car into a corner. And so sure if you can’t have confidence in the car, you look like you lack confidence in general. And let’s face it the car started out this season problematic (or slow at least). Yeah I know Norris has been better in the same car, but if DR just isn’t feeling it’s he’s got to find setups that will get him that feeling back. And of course I’m sure it plays into his mind that the last thing he can afford to do is crash, no matter the session.

        1. We do “know he can drive” but we’ve all over-rated his driving ability. I’m just as guilty – but have suddenly realised that frankly, in terms of been amongst the very best, he’s not up there. And arguably only was in that 2014 season.

          ‘He beat Vettel’ say some. Yes. A driver who is very uncomfortable if the car is not exactly how he wants it and so is far more sensitive to change than his peers.

          ‘He matched Max’. That was the immature version and who is now, light years better than he was in 2018. It’s a bit like saying Button was better than Hamilton, because of 2011. Fans seem to forget where in their career, a team-mates rival is.

          I’d love him to come back and prove me wrong. Sport needs dynamic personalities and he’s certainly one – arguably the only other ‘box office’ character in F1 along with Hamilton.

      2. I think he was still the red bull-mode ricciardo when he was at renault, it’s when he went to mclaren that it went badly.

    2. @johnrkh

      “it always came back to something going on that distracted them or constrained them leading to a loss of focus.”

      This can be a critical factor that is real, I can in no way say that’s what is going on with Daniel. As an Olympic level coach, I regularly have to preach about that. One of the biggest things that effects training and overall performance in sports in more ways than one is distractions and concentration outside of work (competition), especially during practice. Showing up to an event or practice concerned and unhappy about a relationship issue, unpaid bills and other possible issues’s outside of work can play a major role in overall performance. About 60% of the job of doing well in competition is having everything outside of work taken care of and in order. Not having your head in the game during practice seems to be the worst impact that cascades to lower results in a competition.

      I don’t think this is what is going on with RIC, he’s a tough cookie and knows his job but probably much more of just not being able to jell well with the chassis package to get the most out of it like Lando does. I’m sure all the things currently being said in the press and online as a result of his recent performances is certainly not going to improve his concentration and focus; he has a very tough uphill road ahead of him and to overcome. From personal experience, It’s certainly a very brutal seat to be in but it can be done. He’ll just need to post some very good results, get on the podium a couple of times.

      I like RIC and would love to see him do well in F1 but it takes much more than current results to deserve a seat at McLaren or any team like McLaren. Grace periods can only last for so long; Results are expected and paid for.

      1. @banbrorace @redpill Good comments. Regarding 2014 with DR vs SV, I draw a lot of comparisons to what is now going on with GR/LH. We have DR then and GR now both in the lower pressure situations, both in the best car they had/have ever been in, and stoked for that. Both new to their teams and it was/is be bested by their teammate and it’s no surprise, but best them and it’s gravy.

        To me it’s that psychological aspect for both the WDCers and the rookies on the team. DR and GR walking in and just going for it in the best car they’d ever driven, and SV and LH say there saying to themselves what the bleep happened to my WCC/WDC car that fit me like a glove?….unable to do anything about defending their titles.

        It will be interesting to see how GR does next year, and as to DR, well he was bested by Kvyat in 2015, albeit in a car that was relatively less competitive than it was in 2014. Then for DR along came Max. DR had obviously shown enough to get to top teams, however, it seems like the shine might be off the apple now. It would be great to see him up his game very soon at Mac and change the narrative.

        1. “SV and LH sat there,” not ‘say’….

        2. Before Barcelona, I would have agreed with you about Lewis. However, we saw, that after the initial sulk his innate driving skill that’s made him arguably the best ever, is still there.

          Such his belief in himself, I also don’t think he’ll be phased if GR beats him this season.

          I just don’t see Riccardo rebounding in such a way and let’s be honest the disparity between him and Norris is wider than that of LH/GR

          1. @banbrorace Fair comment. I was really just commenting on the phenomenon of two different WDCs having lost their WCC cars to something unrecognizable by comparison, and having their new-to-the-team young up-starts coming in and beating them. Relating that to the topic of DR’s situation now with respect to his driving, I just ponder how in 2014 SV didn’t just suddenly forget how to win, nor did DR suddenly become a 4 time Champion beater, just as LH hasn’t forgotten how to win and GR isn’t suddenly better than a 7 time Champ.

            So with DR (since he is the topic of this article) perhaps 2014 was a season he bested a psychologically destroyed SV, he then was bested by Kvyat, then bested young Max until Max got his act together after his hard lesson of Monaco 2018, and started doubling DR up in qualifying ahead, laps lead ahead of teammate etc etc.

            Perhaps the rumours at the time of DR, by some fans accounts, being a shoe-in for a Mercedes or Ferrari seat, almost like it was his for the choosing, were way wide of the mark. Perhaps DR was over-hyped and I suspect largely because of how he did against an SV that in perspective found himself in a really hard place after a great run, akin to LH now. They didn’t forget how to race, they just lost the car that fit them like a glove, and had teammates come in feeling like they were in heaven with their new best-ever cars they ever had.

          2. @robbie

            To me DR knows he made a big error in leaving RB in 2018 and that has put even more pressure on him for his new ventures to work out. Let’s be honest, he’d probably had been at Ferrari instead of Saintz if he’d been a bit more patient.

            It’s going to be interesting, but I reckon Hamilton’s good career choices plus victories over former rivals when arguably his car was no better, i.e. Vettel in 2017/18 – puts him in a different place where the pressure is different. I honestly don’t think he loses any credibility if Russell beats him this season – he’s had this before and bounced back and that’s the difference. Now there is one other difference, he’s not been beaten by a new team-mate before, so I suppose that would be telling.

          3. @banbrorace Hmmm…not sure I agree that DR might be regretting his decision of 2018. He had his reasons at the time and I just think top athletes learn how to not dwell on the past too much. He didn’t have a crystal ball at the time, and may have not had entire confidence in Honda, and may have thought being at a works factory team that had an opening (and a large wallet lol) was his best bet. That’s setting aside having Max as a teammate of course.

            Regarding LH yeah I certainly don’t expect this stage he is at with the car and with GR is anything permanent, and I just think it must be very very difficult, as it likely was for SV, to lose such a great car that afforded them so much success. For sure LH has nothing more he needs to prove. And next year GR will be in a higher pressure situation so that will be interesting. Put LH and GR in even pressure, even performance, without the (imho) psychological imbalance and you have to put your money on LH.

  6. It’s definitely a sad state of affairs for Ricciardo, who has been one of my favorite drivers on the grid for a long time. But the downturn in form started before he was at McLaren. His time at Renault was disappointing as well. I think he was given the benefit of the doubt because the car was not very competitive but I think it’s fair to say he hasn’t been the same since 2018 when Max outscored him at Red Bull and it was clear the team was prioritizing Max over him.

    1. @g-funk His 2020 season was not disappointing at all, he finished 5th in the championship ahead of both McLarens (and future teammate) in the 2020 Renault that was generally the 5th fastest car, obliterating Ocon who has proved himself to be a decent F1 driver that has dominated Perez in qualifying (16-5, 0.448 average gap), and held his own against a 2-time champion.

      1. Yes, I agree he was doing quite well at renault, it’s when he went to mclaren that he’s no longer the same driver.

    2. Jose Lopes da Silva
      1st June 2022, 20:27

      He finished Hulkenberg’s career, the way Norris is finishng his.

  7. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
    1st June 2022, 14:38

    Feels like Gasly at Red Bull or early Grosjean, where their confidence just evaporates. I wonder if McLaren/RIC haven’t considered, or they’re not are already using a psychologist, similar to what early Grosjean did.

    From the outside looking in, it seems fairly obvious that something is wrecking Ricciardo’s confidence.

    1. Getting beaten silly by your teammate for most of 30 races can do that to you.

    2. Gasly at Red Bull, just like Albon and even Perez last year which was average at best, was more due to the car being catered to Verstappen.
      Can’t say they would be doing better than Perez in this year’s all new car, but for sure both would do much better than they did when they got their shot.

      1. José Lopes da Silva
        1st June 2022, 20:28

        Suddenly, Red Bull stopped catering the car to Verstappen.
        God knows why.

        1. It’s an all new car, genius, i wrote it there. They will do that again, little by little, as they did through the years in the previous regulations, or do you really think Perez just got this better because he wanted it so much?

      2. This again. Seriously?

        1. Do me a favor and tell me how Perez did cut by more than half his deficit compared to Verstappen merely by changing cars. Or how Gasly looks much better driving lesser cars than the only front runner he had the opportunity to drive. You guys must be children, that’s the only explanation. Schumacher’s Benetton is another good example of a car tailored for one driver’s need and that others could only rarely tame.

          1. José Lopes da Silva
            2nd June 2022, 22:53

            At least you end up comparing Verstappen with Schumacher, unlike most of the people posting the same kind of criticisms towards Verstappen and Red Bull. Most people imply that Red Bull favours Verstappen because Jos has compromising photos of Dietrich Mateschitz and not because he is The Top Driver with the obvious probability of going for the championship.

            Evidences of Benetton favouring Schumacher were more common than people realise, aside from the traction control findings by Ibrar Malik. At Ferrari they were even more common and explicit. So far, I haven’t heard no one, aside from people in the comment sections, bringing this up. I’ll be waiting for Kvyat, Gasly, Albon, Ricciardo and Perez to write their memories after F1, as so far they don’t seem interested in complaining or giving the same details that were quite public when Schumacher and Irvine were side by side.

    3. I can’t make this statement as a fact, but these guys at this level almost all have Psychologists working with them, even when they are on top of their game, it is part of the overall package. I would be very surprised if Ric is not working on his head game as well as his physical game.
      Come on Dan, really holding thumbs for you to find those few 100’s that you need.

  8. Maybe Daniel is performing his best. And that’s just not very good at this moment.

  9. Ricciardo on form is fun to watch, a great racer. Pointless saying he should have stuck it out at Red Bull (but I’ll say it anyhow, I guess). It’s difficult to see a recovery though. Norris is as good a driver as him, if not slightly better, has confidence and has a great relationship with the team. Ricciardo will probably have to dig deeper than he’s ever dug to try and get back to an even pairing with Lando. I’m a bit surprised and disappointed TBH, I did think Danny Ricciardo one day would be in a championship fight at least.

    1. Ricciardo is probably like button or rosberg, would’ve definitely won a title but needed the right circumstances, and not a verstappen with a similar car.

      1. @esploratore1 Yes, that’s more or less my take too.

      2. Rosberg was good learner, started with a some innate speed but had to study hard to match Hamilton corner by corner. Ricciardo certainly takes time to learn new tracks and new cars – he showed much better pace on familiar circuits in last year’s car. Now he’s struggling to learn how to extract enough from the MCL36 on any track – even in races where he looks comfortable enough to push it seems to be at the cost of tyres.
        I imagine he was hoping the very familiar topology of Monaco would start an upward trajectory.

  10. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    1st June 2022, 15:46

    It’s never easy turning it around. He’s obviously not comfortable in the car and the more it continues, the less comfortable he’ll get unless something changes in a favorable manner and makes Norris uncomfortable. This is a tough situation for sure. He’s not the only driver in this situation this year. We saw the same with Daniel and Sebastian in 2014 but he was on the other side of the equation.

    I do find it fascinating how a team can make a car that doesn’t suit an existing driver on their team which is what we’re seeing with Schumacher, Gasly, Sainz, and Hamilton. I’m not sure Alonso love this car either.

    1. In the cases of Mick Schumacher, Gasly and Sainz, it could simply be that they aren’t all that good. *shrug*

      1. Also in hamilton’s case it could simply be he’s not as strong as his titles indicate.

        1. Schumacher also was not that strong agains Rosberg either…

          Maybe Hamilton is past his prime..

        2. Hamilton’s titles show that on at least three occasions he won the WDC when the car was no better than the other, i.e. 2008, 2017 and 2018.

          Put Hamilton or the Max of today or perhaps even Le Clerc and they are winning the 2017 / or 2018 titles in the Ferrari that Vettel simply flunked it in.

          He also showed at Barcelona, that he can get something out of a poor car and remember he’s a notoriously poor first half a dozen races of the season starter, i.e. tends to get more points on average – later in the season.

  11. Perhaps mclaren will send him “across the pond” to Indy. he would be a huge draw given his massive number of american fans and may even give him a lower pressure place to rehab his racecraft. Could swap him out with O’ward

    1. I’ll “second” that. The best of all possible worlds?

  12. I was shocked by the recent comments of Brawn, saying both he wasn’t happy with the results and that he could fire Ricciardo if he wanted, regardless of contract length. Absolutely surreal to see a team talking about a top (?) driver in such terms.

    1. Why would you be surprised by McLaren not wanting to keep Daniel Ricciardo on their payroll given his consistent lack of performance?

      Both sides signed that contract, after all.

      1. I wasn’t shocked by the situation nor by them wanting to sack him, that was very much expected. I was shocked by them being so open and public about it.

        1. Ah, ok, thanks for the clarification! 👍

        2. Maybe Brawn thinks he needs some harsh shock treatment to perform better? Not sure that ever works, though. Perhaps with a few people.

          1. Just to be clear I think the reference should be to Brown as in Zak of Mac, not Brawn as in Ross of Liberty Media.

          2. Correct! Thanks @robbie

          3. Agreed. I think it’s quite telling.

            If BrOwn (thanks @robbie) thinks that publicly humiliating (and let’s make no mistake, it was humiliating) your employees somehow brings better results he’s completely out of this world.

            I wonder if that’s an indication of the general working atmosphere un McLaren, (read: unpleasant), and that is a factor in RIC’s current state.
            Pure speculation on my part, definitely, but as I said, it’s shocking how Brown was talking about the situation.

  13. It wouldn’t be so bad if he was resigned to being a number 2 driver, admitting lando is faster but finishing just behind him consistently, but the gap is just huge, consistently.

    It’s not as if he’s over driving it and crashing out all the time over the limit, it’s as if he is scared of pushing to the limit.
    Real shame, hope he can sort it out.

  14. Let’s hope we don’t see more of these falloffs in performance with drivers who have had COVID. Correlation is not causation, but we shouldn’t ignore the correlation. See: Lewis Hamilton.

    1. @kerrymaxwell Post-covid certainly affected Hamilton in the first half of last season, he said he felt excessively tired after race weekends and put it down to covid. But he also said he felt properly recovered at some point, just before Brazil I think, which was probably reflected in his clear upturn in performance over the last races. So this year, I don’t know. I agree it’s possible, though. A few people I know (not top athletes, mind) are still experiencing effects over a year after. Ricciardo, I’ve no idea.

    2. Norris had Covid as well. He is younger though.

      I think it’s purely psychological. Ricciardo gambled by going to Renault, probably thought it is a mistake and two lost years and now ends up in a midfield McLaren. Motivation is probably lacking and it affects him everywhere.

      I also heard he is bad with car setup so if that is true, he may be unable to tune a car so it works for him. Maybe Verstappen likes a similar car so it worked out before.

    3. I had mentioned this in another post, if you look back through the race lap times this year, Dan has been off the pace, but not by much, it’s only in the last 2 races that he has been miles off the pace, (race laps not qualifying) . @johnrkh mentioned above about loss of focus, and it is certainly a known side affect of COVID to have a “Brain fog” making slow and poor decisions, I’d be interested to see if his reaction times have fallen from what they were.

      The other excuse that I could come up with was after his practice crashes is there a weakness in his chassis, given how easily they split in half now?

      My memory of Dan at Redbull was that it was very rare for him to have a practice crash, he tended to work up to his speed where Max was more inclined to test the limits early and bring his car up to what he wanted, or adapt to suit the car.

      Maybe he should stop looking at Lando’s lap maps and just concentrate on making his own laps faster?

      1. Interesting theories. I wasn’t aware of the COVID, but I had thought of the chassis. After all, he was usually a tenth or three tenths off to Lando when he lost and did outqualify him a handful of times last year. So, these constant .5-1 second gaps are almost incomprehensible.

  15. Responding directly to the comments from his boss during the press conference in Monaco…”My skin is tanned, beautiful and also thick.”

    Unfortunately for Daniel there’s a difference between the media and one’s boss, because while it is necessary to have a thick skin when dealing with the media, your boss is your employer. Meaning that if he or she said something negative about you in public then it was probably deserved. Somewhere deeply embedded in the fine print of your employment contract is the right of your boss to terminate that contract. It would be better if Daniel was more sensitive to his boss’s comments. Since I don’t know anything about his work habits, it would be a cheap shot to suggest he spends too much time tanning his skin, but he should be doing better than he is.
    One of the things I liked about Kimi was the brevity of his comments. He wasn’t employed to make comments to the media, he was employed to drive a car. The same applies to Daniel: he’s not employed to have beautiful skin, he’s employed to drive a car at the front of a race, or at least at the podium level.
    Like it or not, we have been blessed with an amazingly wonderful brain on our shoulders, and it is us who have the intelligence to adapt to the fickleness of a motorcar or whatever. You can’t expect the car to adapt to your driving style, you have to adapt your driving style to what works best for that car.
    I must admit to being sceptical about claims that a car doesn’t suit a particular driver’s style of driving. Everyday millions of musicians devote hours to practicing an awkward piece of music which will only sound beautiful after many many hours of practice.
    As I said earlier, it is a cheap shot, but less tanning and more practice could be the answer to Daniel’s performance woes.

    1. Your comment is weirdly mean-spirited, and devoid of point.

      Like it or not, we have been blessed with an amazingly wonderful brain on our shoulders, and it is us who have the intelligence to adapt to the fickleness of a motorcar or whatever.

      It’s a weird counter to an argument no one has made. Ricciardo most certainly hasn’t said he won’t try to adapt to the car, so it comes from nowhere and says very little. He’s failing, sure, but it’s not like we have any reason to believe he isn’t trying. On the contrary, twice in the article it is said they are trying everything they can.

      Less tanning and more practice

      Since you recognize that is both cheap and unfair, but still said it, it seems you were just looking for a way to be callous for callousness’ sake.

  16. José Lopes da Silva
    1st June 2022, 20:34

    The Ricciardo case is among the most uncommon in recent (aka last 40 years) history. Vettel is another top driver who dropped in form, although we all believe he never quite adapted to the hybrid era. Piquet dropped after is Imola 87 accident. Raikkonen dropped from 2007 onwards, after the tyre monopoly kicked in. M. Schumacher had been out for 3 seasons and was getting old.
    For Ricciardo we still don’t have an identifiable reason. The difference for Gasly and Albon is that he was considered among the Top Drivers of the sport. He should be at the height of powers, combining physical prowess and experience. And the odd win in Monza makes this everything even more weird. It was great to see him winning, but that win is statistically almost as awkward as the Maldonado/Williams win, which is 10 years old now.

    Let’s hope that he recovers or at least that we can understand what’s happening.

  17. McLaren are no better than the other non factory Mercedes teams Aston Martin and Williams. Put the 6 drivers together and Ricciardo is coming 2nd. Not bad. Lando is the exception and needs to get out of McLaren ASAP and into Hamilton’s seat.

  18. Problem is, picking a driver to replace Ricciardo. You cant tell me someone from Indy is going to do any better right now. It mite be that Lando is that good. I believe its a bit of Lando being really good and Daniel not comfortable in the car.

    1. Some of the alternatives might do a similar job to Ric is doing right now. With the added upside of improvement coming once they’ve gotten used to F1. Whereas Ric has already been in F1 for over 10 years, has been in McLaren for a couple of years, and isn’t showing any signs of improvement.

  19. It’s an interesting situation and a very strange one.

    I can’t help but notice that the young drivers coming out of F2 seem to have mastered the cars far better than the older more experienced drivers. Is it possible that today’s F1 cars really don’t drive anything like ones that the older drivers grew up with?

    Good, and great drivers don’t just suddenly lose their ability, so something must be so radically different, that it’s completely foreign to their brains and muscle memory.

    I theorise that it’s the “feel” of the grip – the young drivers just blast away into corners (after all there’s very few that have consequences) and the cars “just stick” and it all feels normal to them, whereas the older drivers feel that the grip just isn’t there and just don’t have the confidence to hit the corners as hard as their younger team mates/competitors.

    Even if they’re told “don’t worry it’ll stick” their very being I think is screaming at them “you’re not going to make it”, because they started and grew up in an era where that feeling was correct, and often the difference between success and failure (or worse)

    I’ve been hoping that Dan will turn it around, as I did when Seb was suffering with the same issue, but he’ll have to take a huge leap soon or completely lose confidence to the point of no return.

    The other thing that HAS to be mentioned is that once you’re back in a Trulli train, you’re going to lose massive amounts of time to a team mate who is in front of that. The huge gaps on Sundays really have been more of a result of being stuck behind a train of cars being blocked by a slower, but not quite slow enough, car at the front than a matter of just not being anywhere near as fast as his team mate. It’ll be far easier for Dan if he gets his qualy act together – he used to be an amazing qualifier – now he’s average to poor, which I think gets back to my point above, and his qualifying failures essentially consign him to being a long way behind Lando before a lap has even been done on Sundays.

  20. Prime Ricciardo was great. I don’t understand why is is slow. Alonso is a lot older but hasn’t lost his speed. so its weird Daniel lost his speed. i guess the car doesn’t suit him at all. Maybe he should switch seats with Gasly….

  21. I’m a big fan of Ric and I do hope he turns it round, but he’s being paid mega bucks to be comprehensibly outperformed by Norris. We’re now into June, so a decision on whether McLaren can offload him is close. I think his and McLaren’s best option would be to seat swap Daniel with Alonso. That would put both drivers into previously familiar environments, Daniel has performed at Renault/ Alpine and I’m pretty sure based on form/results Alonso would be there or thereabouts with Norris, certainly better than Ric has done.

    The more I think about it, if McLaren want to move him on, Alpine is the only other team that might be confident in his value and to get him performing again. If Vettel leaves Aston Martin they would only see him as a punt.

    Tricky one but the results don’t lie, I hope he starts performing again and soon. Yes

  22. To be honest I’m not surprised he’s struggled like this. I never really rated him as a top driver, I think he flattered to deceive more often than not. Yes, he beat Vettel, but Vettel has been shown to be not particularly spectacular, and his 2014 was one of his worst years. He wasn’t as far ahead of an inexperienced Kvyat as people seem to like to remember, and once Verstappen got more experience, he started being regularly quicker than Ricciardo. Norris is very good and I was very sure before last year that he’d easily beat Ricciardo, honestly I can’t see how so many people thought otherwise.

    With his large salary and poor performance, I can actually see him not even lasting this whole season. It’s doing Mclaren no good having him in the car.

    1. @tflb Pity you with your immense knowledge were not on the McLaren selection committee, could have saved them a lot of Money. I guess the massive amount of data they use to evaluate a driver is pretty useless.

  23. There’s not many options for a replacement driver, gasly fell apart getting destroyed by Max , chances are lando will do the same to him. A curveball suggestion might be Bottas, he’s experienced with a Mercedes’ engine and knows what it’s like to race at the front (which is where McLaren want to be).

  24. Ric is a funny and likeable character but I always suspected he was punching above his weight in terms of perceived talent. He almost beat Max as teammates which begs the question is Max really as good as the hype or has he just been flattered by a Newey car that’s been entirely designed around his driving style. Now that we’ve had a regulation refresh and new car design philosophy Checo seems to be making him look more and more ordinary.

  25. The car does not suite daniel. Its that simple. He is not driving with confidence because he does not feel the car. Even something like brake pad brands can affect a driver.

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