Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, Paul Ricard, 2022

Departing Ricciardo “never got fully comfortable” in McLaren’s cars

2022 F1 season

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McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl has admitted his team haven’t been able to give Daniel Ricciardo the confidence he needed to push their cars to the limit, as they confirmed he will leave them a year early.

Ricciardo has largely failed to produce comparable results to team mate Lando Norris since joining McLaren at the beginning of last year, despite scoring a victory in the 2021 Italian Grand Prix. McLaren announced today he will not see out the third year of his contract with them in 2023.

“It’s obviously not a secret that if you look at these 18 months we worked together so far, we didn’t achieve the results we wanted to achieve,” Seidl said in response to a question from RaceFans. “Despite being able to have some highlights, real highlights like the win last year and also from Daniel after so many years for McLaren, despite all the efforts he has put in and the commitment, despite all the work we have put in on our side, we just couldn’t achieve the results that we all wanted to achieve together.

“That’s why I myself had a lot of conversations in the last month[s] with Daniel just to be transparent and clear on where we are on both sides. In the end, unfortunately, we didn’t make it really work. And that’s why we wanted to go for a change for next year and in the end we mutually agreed on an early termination of the existing contract at the end of ’22.”

Ricciardo seldom felt comfortable pushing either of the team’s cars – last year’s MCL35M and the current MCL36 – to the limit, said Seidl.

“We have commented many times in the last weeks and months about the challenges we had on Daniel’s side of the garage regarding expecting the performance as on Lando’s side, from the car.

“Daniel has said several times that he just never felt fully comfortable within our car, especially when it was about pushing the car to the absolute limit. That was, in the end, causing from time to time this lap time difference that we have seen compared to Lando.

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“At the same time, you have to acknowledge as well that Lando is an outstanding driver. So he was up against one of the best ones in the paddock. And this in the end led us to the decision.”

Seidl accepted his share of the responsibility for the difficulties Ricciardo had at the team.

“We just didn’t get it to work,” he said. “In the end, for a driver, being able to extract the performance from a car is a team effort between the driver and the team.

“So I just want to be clear as well that I fully take the responsibility as well, being in charge of the team, that we also couldn’t find the magic in order to find these percentages that were missing from time to time. And that’s why in the end, we came to the conclusion that it is actually the best we go separate ways next year.”

Despite the early parting of ways between Ricciardo and McLaren, Seidl said he was grateful for the contribution their outgoing driver had made to date.

“On the racing side, I’m obviously disappointed that we didn’t manage to make it work,” he said. “But the respect I’m having for the person of Daniel Ricciardo, but also the race driver, hasn’t changed.

“I’m still convinced that he’s one of the best ones that is around in this paddock and, in the end, with him joining the team one-and-a-half years ago, with everything he brought to the team as well with his experience, he definitely helped us a lot to become a better team.

“I really always appreciated a lot this positivity, his enthusiasm. His help, also, helping me in difficult situations like the start of this season where we had some tough times going into the first race. He never gave up and always helped me also keeping the team in a good shape and helped me to keep the team pushing forward and stay motivated and stay flat-out and not give up. And that’s something I will definitely miss from him.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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14 comments on “Departing Ricciardo “never got fully comfortable” in McLaren’s cars”

  1. Something about this whole saga continues to be rather puzzling. It was off from the start and never really seemed to get any better, and the problem seems rather similar between two entirely different generations of cars. Now either Norris is a ridiculous talent (and I wouldn’t discount him being underrated a bit) but it’s also likely that something else is contributing to Ricciardo’s continued woes. Curiously given all this talk of not finding the limit; I don’t recall Ricciardo having any ‘big’ crashes with the McLaren (but perhaps I’m missing an obvious example here).

    Unless Ricciardo continues in F1 and is paired with a somewhat known quantity, I suspect it’ll continue to be hard to say if a different environment has really ‘fixed’ the problem – or it’s merely being hidden behind lower expectations (in a worse car, worse teammate, etc.)

    1. I think it’s just the difference between being very very good, and being one of the greats. Combined with the fact that he was paired with a driver that is potentially a future great, Lando.

      Ricciardo is clearly a great talent. I consider the Mclaren years as an exception rather than the rule. It’s an ugly blotch on his record, but I expect he will go to Alpine and continue doing what he did at Renault 3 years ago.

      I do think he is done as a potential WDC contender. There is too much talent in the fastest cars for him to ever get a chance. I put Ricciardo in a category of his own as ‘almost top tier.’

      1. i don’t think is even that. Maybe a lesser driver than him could’ve pulled it off (like Sainz did). But he didn’t for whatever reason.

        Drivers like Raikkonen and Vettel too were unrecognizable in a couple of years of their careers driving cars they could not adapt and both are considered greats.

    2. If ricciardo goes to alpine vs ocon, it will be very easy to determine if it’s the red bull version or not, since they met before obviously and in the same car, as for ricciardo vs norris, for sure there’s something off with ricciardo’s performance, let’s not forget he matched a young verstappen, there’s no way 2016-2018 ricciardo would get demolished like this.

  2. It’s always sad when what seems to be a great combination just doesn’t work. I hope Ricciardo gets a chance to showcase his talent in a competitive seat and the new McLaren driver (probably Piastri) gives Lando a run for his money.

  3. Going to be interesting to see how he handles the next 9 races.
    One can hope that they find a fiddle with the car (not likely), that DR throws caution to the wind and unleashes some surprising results (also low probability, but one can always hope), or McLaren swaps in another driver for the last 3 races (what I would do unless one or two occurs).
    Let’s see some Ausi-Grit and a Shoey or two. Do Shoeys come in pairs.?

    1. Not optimist on that seeing the end of the 2020 season for vettel, so agree on the low probability.

  4. “never got fully comfortable”? More like Lando showed Daniel how it should be done.

  5. Well he tried, and he’ll be like this at the end of the season: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Z2JTPalv_s

  6. I still think it was mistake for Ricciardo to go to Mclaren. Wharever are the reasons for his lackluster performances, he should’ve stayed at Renaul (Alpine), because move to Mclaren was a sideways move. Of course, Daniel thought Mclaren had better prospects in springing to the top of F1 field, but it was a gamble anyways. And that gamble backfired – not only Mclaren didn’t become title contender (I don’t think Daniel cares whether he finishes 10th or 5th), but it damaged his reputation in such a way, that he may be out of F1 next year. He should’ve jumped ships just for a team, which was at the top and these are only Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari.

    1. I agree , I thought he never should have left Renault. Especially since Renault has been showing it is an up and coming team. But who is to say things would not have turned out the same had he been paired with Alonso at Renault.

  7. I doubt Piastri will do better than Ricciardo against Norris, at least not in first season. But after that he can improve and McLaren will save money. Unfortunate it didn’t work out for Daniel at McLaren, I really think he should have stayed at Red Bull or pushed hard for a Ferrari seat, he is Italian ethnicity and it would have been great for F1. I hope Danni joins Indycar at some point, his overtaking skills are perfect for that entertaining series. Time to retire Latiffi, Tsunoda and Mick jr. From F1 also. 35 races is far too ong time to get up to the speed of your teammates when others can have a chance in F1.

  8. Daniel drives on the brakes and the McLaren has poor brakes maybe?

    That was where he used to get most of his performance and most of his overtakes were in braking zones as I recall.

  9. He cannot drive cars with instable rear ends.

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