McLaren “absolutely convinced” Ricciardo can get back to his best

2022 F1 season

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McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl says he still has belief in Daniel Ricciardo’s abilities, despite the team’s decision to cut his contract short at the end of this year.

Ricciardo has won eight Formula 1 races over the course of his career, the most recent with McLaren at Monza last year. But his future is uncertain after the team cut short his three-year deal leaving him without a drive for 2023 and few vacancies available.

McLaren signed Lando Norris to a long-term contract earlier this year and hired rookie Oscar Piastri and Ricciardo’s replacement. But Seidl’s experience tells him Ricciardo could regain his form at a different team.

“I’m absolutely convinced that is possible because I’ve seen that in the past myself,” he said. “I experienced it with other drivers and we have seen that in the past with other drivers.”

Ricciardo’s Monza win was the sole highlight of his time at McLaren. With six races left this year he has less than a quarter of team mate Norris’s points total. Seidl said the team had to acknowledge it hadn’t been able to get the best out of the driver they hired at the beginning of last year.

“In the end, we have to accept on both sides that despite all the effort we have put in, the commitment, despite all we have tried on our side, despite everything he has tried on his side, we didn’t manage to do it together. And in the end, that is a shared responsibility between Daniel and us. As I said, I fully take my responsibility in this as well.

“But that doesn’t change the respect I have and we all have for Daniel as a person, but also as a as a racing driver. And you have to accept sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Unfortunately, that happened between us and Daniel. I hope that at his next adventure that he’s starting, that he makes it click again and it works.”

With few options available to him, Ricciardo has indicated he may not race in F1 next year. If he does return, Seidl believes he could find a car which suits him at a different team.

“Formula 1 is complex,” he said. “There’s so many things involved in order to perform on-track, on the driver’s side, on the team’s side, on the car side.

“If you are not fully one with the car – and Daniel has stated several times that he never felt fully comfortable with our car, that it’s never felt fully natural for him to extract the maximum performance, especially in qualifying – that unfortunately ended up in the situation we ended up.

“We didn’t manage to achieve the results together overall that we wanted to achieve. Although we couldn’t repeat race weekends like in Monza – clearly saying as well that we also never had the car to do a repeat of Monza to actually go for a win [this year] – but let’s say [also] in terms of the consistency of the results compared to Lando as well.”

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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...
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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32 comments on “McLaren “absolutely convinced” Ricciardo can get back to his best”

  1. Of course they’re going to say this. They still have a points battle to win and further undermining his confidence only hurts them.

    I’m a Huge Ricciardo fan, but they’re obviously going to say only good things like this about him. They still have him around for a while and I am sure they know they’ll diffuse some of the anger that some of his fan base may have had.

    I happen to think the opportunity to get DR at basically minimum wage should be a no brainer for Alpine. However despite the fact that he crushed, head-to-head, their current signed driver and their former who is being looked at by Haas and them, Lauren Rossi’s ego couldn’t take ending up with what seems like the leftovers of the team who “stole” their golden boy away.

    1. Agreed.

      Alpine really should be signing Ricciardo.

      However, from all reports about how things are going at Alpine, Lauren Rossi is rumoured to be a big factor for drivers leaving Alpine (Alonso, Piastri). It’s entirely possible Ricciardo doesn’t want to join that environment. Again – all rumour though.

    2. I know it’s easy to be skeptical of Mclaren’s kind words, but I can’t help but agree with the assessment. Ricciardo was considered damn near top tier 3 years ago. The only real blip in his career has been the Mclaren stint. His failure to adapt certianly deserves Danny’s removal from the top-tier driver consideration. But I still think Ricciardo is probably closer to top tier than anyone else on the grid. I’d probably easily pick him over Perez, Gasly, and Bottas. If I were Alpine I’d be trying to get the bargain of a lifetime by getting Ricciardo, probably easily, at a 4th of his current contract of $15m/year.

      It’s baffling that Alpine haven’t pulled the trigger on him and instead are considering who-knows-who in that absurd list of 14 names Otmar Szafnauer supposedly had. I certainly wouldn’t want to pair Gasly and Ocon. De Vries did well in Williams and that’s where he should go. Hulk would be a decent choice, but no way I’d pick him over Ricciardo. Mick… he’s the only one that might be interesting, but I don’t think he has done enough at Haas to justify that promotion.

  2. If you were absolutely convinced that he was any good at all, you wouldn’t be paying 13 million Aussie dollars just to get rid of him.

    Words mean nothing at this point, actions speak louder.

    They’ve said enough words from day 1 when they called him the new kid on the block and to pull his head in rather than listening to him. McLaren have no one to blame but themselves, and the exact same goes for Daniel.

    It’s like both sides of that partnership are too nice to have said it how it was and that’s led them down this path.

    1. If they were convinced he wasn’t any good, they wouldn’t have signed him up for 3 years on an $astronomical $contract.
      When the car suits his style, he justifies it as much as any other big name in F1 does – but when the team flat out refuse to give it to him, it’s never going to work.
      It’s better to end the partnership early – for both parties.

    2. @skipgamer “I’m absolutely convinced that is possible….”

      It’s a nothing comment… People will focus on the “absolutely convinced” part of it but in reality, the “possible” part massively changes the meaning of what he’s saying.

      He’s now saying that he believes Ricciardo will get back to his best or even that it’s likely. He’s not saying that he’ll ever be successful in F1 again…. He’s just saying that it’s a possibility (however unlikely that may be). In effect – in his opinion, Ricciardo hasn’t lost all of his talent and hasn’t given up. Therefore it’s a possibility that in the right car or the right series, he could potentially regain his confidence and we’ll see him at his best again.

      McLaren want someone who they are absolutely convinced will be at their best in the car…

      1. edit: He’s *not* saying that he believes Ricciardo will get back to his best…….

      2. Exactly, it’s a polite truism. They clearly don’t think Ricciardo will regain his form at McLaren, so they’re getting rid of him. But Seidl isn’t going to say Ricciardo is no good, both because it’s unknowable and because it’s no longer his problem anyway.

  3. They were so convinced they paid Daniel millions of dollars for the privilege of not having him in one of their own cars.

  4. I still don’t really buy that a driver goes from one most people consider a pretty strong safe bet to one who just cannot perform at all at F1 level, in 2 years. It makes no sense.

    I have always been a fan of Daniel and considered him an exciting driver. McLaren’s decision in the light of his results is understandable but there must be something significant about the way they have designed/set-up their cars.

    I think Daniel deserves another chance at a new team in 2023. Even if it’s only a 1 year contract to see if he still has what it takes. The chances are looking pretty slim though.

    1. It’s happened before though. It’s actually quite rare to see drivers pretty much on top form every single year. Maybe Michael Schumacher could claim to have been in his first career (1991-2006), but other than that there are always some outliners even for the champions.

      Ricciardo’s dip in form is quite significant, though. But Norris has also said he’s had to work hard at figuring out how to drive the McLaren. Who’s to say he is getting everything out of it? Perhaps the McLaren team needs to rethink how they’re making these cars, because it’s been a constant theme for years now between multiple drivers. It’s not good enough to have a car that only someone like Fernando Alonso can drive well, because those guys are few and far between. Maybe the engineers need to reconsider some of the fundamental ideas behind McLaren’s current cars, because one win per decade is a massive waste of their time and the sponsor’s money.

      1. + 1. I agree. For what they must be spending they’re underperforming. .

      2. Agree also. Surely cars which are so much more difficult to extract the maximum out of are also that much more difficult for the driver to provide effective feedback for setting up and developing the car.

    2. @phil-f1-21 Yeah I also think it’s ludicrous the number of people saying Ricciardo is ‘washed’ or even retroactively saying he was never any good. It was only 2 years ago that he was considered by many to be a top 5 driver on the grid, and not as a one-off season, but over the entire hybrid era. I don’t quite rate him as high as the very top talents like Verstappen and Hamilton, and obviously his inability to adapt to the McLarens of the last two years counts against him, but he was clearly a very good driver in every other team he competed for so unless there is something about the 2022 generation of cars that doesn’t suit him there is no reason he can’t go back to competing at a very high level like he did in 2020.

      1. + 1. I would love it if he could. Just to prove all the naysayers wrong.

    3. A lot has changed for Ricciardo in the last couple of years, he has become distracted, he has become a ‘star’ via Drive To Survive and decided his future is ‘Hollywood’ with him constantly mentioning his F1 Ballers / Entourage fantasy series. It’s not a coincidence that his performance dropped as he started talking about side projects. To be top of the game in F1 you need talent, unflinching self belief, focus and luck, right now Daniel is unfocused and out of luck and his self confidence is low by driver standards. The McLaren staff obviously don’t believe in him, since they see him up close each race and observe his talent, they are not convinced he has anything worth pursuing left in him. But this is his own failing, it’s his job to extract everything out of a car, it’s his job to inspire his team to galvanise around him and push for performance he can use. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a highly competitive job and he’s likely burnt himself out. Old dogs like Alonso & Hamilton are rare, most of the current grid will be gone in 5 to 7 years, this is the F1 cycle, it should be a vicious cycle of the best of the new generation displacing the previous placeholders. Hopefully this time next year we’ll be talking about Piastri and his fulfilling his potential and Ricciardo can be set free to pursue his real passion.

      Daniel has achieved more than so many others drivers can dream of, race wins, fan favourite, cashed in and paid handsomely to leave a team. I’m a fan, but right now he is wasting a seat someone driven and exciting could be filling, I think McLaren should sit him on the sidelines for the remainder of the year and give Piastri the final races.

      1. It’s a case of what might have been though: what would have happened if ricciardo had come in at red bull with vettel instead of webber? Surely would’ve beaten him to 1-2 titles.

      2. He joined red bull as soon as it got worse, that’s unlucky, and then had verstappen as a team mate, which is even more unlucky, I’m not defending his silly choice to leave red bull ofc.

    4. It’s possible that the cars genetics are causing the issues he has with it being nervous. At RB and Renault their cars were high rake, high downforce. The McLaren is a low rake car more like the Mercedes. It is possible he just doesn’t gel with that chassis. If he were to get a seat at the RB sister team, if Helmet would put him back in one of their cars I think it’s possible he may shine. Gasley is supposed to be leaving.. The other car I think he might work in is the Alfa.

  5. Hypocritical doublespeak. As others have pointed out, if Ricciardo will come good why spend millions to get rid of him?

    1. That’s just McLaren being up-front and stating they will not be building a car that Ricciardo feels comfortable with.
      They are hoping that Piastri will be more in tune with whatever they give him, and are willing to bet $millions on it.

    2. Obviously building a better car costs a lot more than spending millions to get rid of him.
      When McLaren gave him a car possible of winning in, he won.

  6. I get the feeling there is a stubborn culture at McLaren, where possibly head engineers and designers have too much say versus the drivers, suppliers and partners. I think its telling that McLaren languished while working with Honda for years and then the second Honda moves to Red Bull, the new partnership between them quickly starts producing results. Also there is a recent history of some others drivers who have decent records with other teams and series struggling at McLaren: Perez, Vandoorne, Magnussen to name a few.
    It seems that the only way to succeed at McLaren is to do things their way, they won’t bend to meet the needs of others. Whether this is the right or wrong approach is debatable.

    1. Whether this is the right or wrong approach is debatable.

      Is it? Because McLaren has spend untold hundreds of millions on F1 since the turn of the century, and all they have to show for it are 1 driver’s title in 2007, and just 1 race win in the last decade. With all their state of the art facilities and their partnerships with Mercedes and Honda as these manufacturer’s de facto works team, their results are rather bad.

    2. A very good point about the other OK drivers who have struggled at McLaren. Norris seems to have adapted very well but he’s a bit of an exception.

    3. Honda I think were going to find why the engine was unreliable and lacked power even if they stayed with McLaren. What ORBR did was have a chassis that performs way better so in the early part of the partnership they got good results even though the engine was down a bit on power.

      1. In there early iteration I believe even though they designed the tech back in the 1970s they weren’t using a pre combustion chamber which is key for a lean burn engine.

    4. That’s a really great assessment. Both Mclaren and Williams (under Sir Frank) seem to be driven by engineering philosophy that doesn’t seem to delivering good cars.

      Mercedes seems also to have fallen for the trap of “ the engineers insist that this car is optimised to be really fast” only to find that it’s not.

      Mclaren have made it abundantly clear that they’re not going to change their design philosophy and Dan clearly doesn’t like, or can’t get comfortable in, their car, so parting ways probably suits him as much as it suits Mclaren.

  7. Seidl must be thinking he is saying something really clever and humble but Seidl is digging himself a hole. Tost wouldn’t say something this sensored. Now I want to see what is going to happen to Seidl if indeed Daniel finds another seat and finds himself beating McLaren next season, because if that happens everyone is going to say Seidl was right and McLaren wrong.

  8. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve had the same conversation when I go through a breakup with a girlfriend… It’s not either of our faults. You’re an amazing person. But I think it’s that we’re just not good together. I know that you will find your person, and when you do it will be incredible. I wish nothing but the best for you.

  9. If the philosophy for the cars has to be unstable to oversteer to achieve the best lap time then that is what it is. Perez is in the same boat now unable to adapt.

    What is the point of making a stable car that is always going to be 8/10ths slower?

    1. What is the point of making a stable car that is always going to be 8/10ths slower?

      What is the point of making a car that only 10% of drivers can drive comfortably and extract the most from, and that is inherently inconsistent?

      If the drivers being uncomfortable in the car costs more time than just making the car more stable, then what have you gained?
      Human drivers have to drive it, after all…. Not computers.


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