2022 F1 driver rankings #19: Daniel Ricciardo

2022 F1 driver rankings

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When he climbed to the top step of Monza’s famous podium in 2021 having just given McLaren their first victory in nine years, how many would believe that 436 days later Daniel Ricciardo would be off the Formula 1 grid entirely?

Ricciardo was supposed to be an upgrade over Carlos Sainz Jnr, who had served McLaren well during his two years with the team. A multiple race winner coming off a strong second season with Renault, Ricciardo was the perfect veteran to pair with young Lando Norris.

But 2021 was nothing like Ricciardo or his team expected. He was hammered by Norris over the year, only managing to salvage some face with his brilliant, out-of-nowhere Monza win. At least he could reset over the off-season and head into a new season in 2022 with a completely new car and a new mentality.

It did not get any better. In fact, by his own admission, Ricciardo’s performance during 2022 left him with the sobering realisation that 2021 may not have been that bad by comparison – especially as he ended the season with an even greater chasm between himself and Norris in the championship standings.

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Daniel Ricciardo, Imola, Emilia-Romanga, 2022
First-lap tangle with Sainz ruined Ricciardo’s Imola race
It wasn’t an easy start to the new era of F1 for Ricciardo or McLaren as a team. Covid-19 ended his pre-season early and he headed into the first race weekend in Bahrain with a car that had a low chance of scoring points and a high chance of cooking its brakes. But a rapid turnaround by the team gave Ricciardo the opportunity to put on a show for his home fans in Melbourne, finishing sixth behind Norris after respecting team orders not to challenge him over the final laps.

Then, Imola was the first black mark of the season. While Norris navigated through a tricky race in the wet to take what would be the only podium finish of the year for any midfield team, Ricciardo’s race had been ruined at the first corner. While the stewards elected not to investigate his race-ending clash with Sainz, Ricciardo felt the need to apologise for the turn one collision that effectively ended both their afternoons.

Ricciardo’s season was again being defined by how he was simply unable to match his team mate. Norris fell ill with tonsillitis at Barcelona, but still battled through to score four points in eighth while Ricciardo crossed the line in 12th, 45 seconds behind. He wrecked his car into the Swimming Pool barriers during Friday practice at Monaco, then finished 13th in the race while Norris was ‘best of the rest’ in sixth.

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Baku provided a rare boost for Ricciardo as he finished ahead of Norris in eighth – with the benefit of team orders earning him payment from Melbourne – but the concern at Woking was only growing. As the team packed up their things after the British Grand Prix, Norris held an advantage of 43 points over Ricciardo in the championship. After the race, Seidl and Brown made the bold call to sign Alpine junior Oscar Piastri to replace Ricciardo for 2023 and seek way of ending their contract with Ricciardo a full season early as their most recent winner had apparently exhausted the patience of the team’s management.

Norris almost always led Ricciardo home
McLaren’s respect for Ricciardo as a member of the team is unquestionable. Team principal Andreas Seidl could not have been clearer about how much they appreciated Ricciardo’s character, team spirit and work ethic during their final months together. But McLaren is an F1 team, not a social club, and Ricciardo’s lack of performance for a second successive year was simply unacceptable.

Sadly for Ricciardo, the rest of his season offered little to suggest McLaren had made a mistake by dropping him. A particularly poor run of races either side of the summer break left him looking as lost as he had ever been. He put in a respectable performance at Monza but easily his best work of the season came in Singapore. Lacking the upgrades of his team mate, he started 16th on the grid and rose up to fifth – his best result of 2022.

Perhaps the most heart-breaking race of all was the United States Grand Prix. No driver has embraced F1’s lust for Americana quite like Ricciardo, rocking up to the paddock on a horse and sporting a Texas Longhorns jersey during the drivers’ parade. But after qualifying nine places behind Norris in 17th, his race pace evaporated under the Austin sun, crossing the line a dismal 16th – 10 places behind his team mate.

His final races with McLaren were a frustrating mix of Ricciardo at his best and worst. When McLaren gave him the ideal strategy in Mexico, he wasted no time making it work, getting to enjoy attacking rivals on soft tyres. Then he clumsily clattered into Yuki Tsunoda and earned a 10-second penalty that threatened to undo his hard work, but by the chequered flag he’d managed to negate all the time he’d lost to keep a well-earned seventh.

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Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, and Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2022
Despite a collision with Tsunoda, Ricciardo scored in Mexico
Interlagos was never going to be McLaren’s best venue, but for the second Sunday in succession he bumped into a rival in a slow right hander, pitching Kevin Magnussen into a spin and causing the crash that ended his race on the opening lap.

Heading into Abu Dhabi, Ricciardo knew he would be absent from the grid for at least the next season – possibly for good. At least if he never races a grand prix again, he can hold his head high having held off former team mate and fellow Red Bull product Sebastian Vettel over the final laps of the race to end his time at McLaren with a solid points finish.

Ricciardo is convinced F1 has not seen the last of him yet. At the age of 33, he has not yet reached his use-by date as a racing driver. However, if any team does decide to give him another chance at a race seat in the future, it will be despite his performance in 2022, not because of it.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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40 comments on “2022 F1 driver rankings #19: Daniel Ricciardo”

  1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    8th December 2022, 8:22

    Given the car he had and some of the other comments discussing who may be next on latifi’s page, i can sort of understand why Ricciardo is 19th. I personally think he should be a little higher though. I think Schumacher was worse than him At least Ricciardo didn’t absolutely wreck his car on numerous occasions and I think he had at least as many occasions as schumacher when his performance was at least good.

    1. Not sure what your logic is here. McLaren had a much better car than Haas this year. Compare Schumacher’s performances with his teammate and Ricciardo’s performances with his teammate. Plus not sure Norris is a world beater either. All this hype for Norris is because of his performances against Ricciardo otherwise he was basically on par with Sainz before that. At least Gasly, Albon and Perez can have the excuse that Verstappen destroys all of his teammates. So Max is making them look worse than they actually are.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        8th December 2022, 9:03

        Ricciardo’s team mate is far better than Schumachers team mate though. And the driver rankings isn’t only to do with team mate battles.

        1. Based on what? Lando isn’t far better than Magnussen at all. Ricciardo at McLaren is like a fish out of water. The better comparison with Lando is Carlos Sainz. Sainz beat Lando both years at McLaren. The same Sainz who got beaten by Hulkenberg in 2018 at Renault. Now I believe Perez was more closer to Hulkenberg than Sainz was. And Magnussen and Perez were teammates to Button at McLaren. And Magnussen did a similar albeit slighty worse job against Button than Perez(10-9 to Perez and 9-10 to Magnussen vs Button). So there is no reason to think Lando is much better than Magnussen at all.

          Perez>Magnussen(10-9 vs 9-10)
          Perez>Sainz(8-13(Renault 2018) vs 7-12(FI 2014))

          1. Still, compared to Norris, who in your own words might not be a world beater, the numbers are pretty damning for Daniel. Given what Norris could do with the car the achievements of Ricciardo are pretty dreadful.

          2. Hi Janith.

          3. Norris was equal to Sainz and Sainz got beaten by Hulkenberg.
            You conventiently forget that Hulkenberg himself got beaten by Ricciardo, creating the sequence:
            Ricciardo is better than Hulkenberg, who is better than Sainz, who is equal to Norris, who is better than Ricciardo.
            A bit like Hill > Villeneuve > Frentzen > Hill

            Using this technique to make comparisons about driver quality has been shown to make no sense. There are too many factors that influence performance.

          4. @Frank-This just proves how poor Ricciardo was at McLaren. And how good he was before. The important point here is Norris is very good in that McLaren. But in that same McLaren when he was paired with Sainz he wasn’t anything special. Although I totally get it if someone says Sainz was not at his best at Renault. But Sainz was hardly this bad in the Renault. He had a very solid season. But just got beaten by his teammate.

          5. You’re missing driver development though, Sainz was always going to beat the rookie Lando.

          6. @malith Your assertion that Sainz is better than Norris is absolute nonsense. That is all.

          7. Your argument completely ignores that Norris out qualified Sainz in both years at Mclaren.. and in their 2nd season, Carlos was quite lucky to have finished in front of Norris. Norris was inherently the quicker driver that was still learning. If you put Lando and Sainz in the same machinery today, Lando would own him with ease.

            Just look at last season for proof. Norris was on for a debut win at the Russian GP in a Mclaren, completely on merit too… while Sainz couldn’t win a single race on merit in a Ferrari this year. He inherited that British GP win.

            If I had to make a guesstimate – Lando -> Sainz/Perez -> Magnussen

          8. @David-I’m unbiased. So I see the clear picture. Norris has a lot to prove. He was only an equal with Sainz at best.

          9. @Todfod-I never said Magnussen is a better driver than Norris. But someone said Norris is far better than Magnussen. Which I don’t think is the case. Yes. I believe Lando has more potential than Sainz. But Carlos had him under control. One could argue way better than Perez had Ocon under control. Given Ocon wiped the floor with Perez in qualifying in 2018. Norris-Sainz never went to those levels. It was a slight negligible improvement from 2019 to 2020.

          10. By this logic you could also go back and look that Sainz was barely any slower than Verstappen in the same car in 2015, actually he won the qualifying battle while Max won the race head to head and scored more points. Meanwhile Sergio Portierez is 0,4-0,5s slower than Verstappen on average in the same car, so Sainz would still be faster than Barricheco by 3-4 tenths if they were team mates.

          11. @JB22-It has the exact opposite effect of what you said. Max showed massive improvement from 2015-2018. At no point was Sainz a better driver than Max at Toro Rosso. While Ricciardo was a better driver than Max for some time. And nope Sainz didn’t win the qualifying battle vs Max. Max won it 11-10. As for Max vs Ricciardo it was
            11-6 to Ricciardo in 2016
            13-7 to Max in 2017
            15-5 to Max in 2018

          12. @Malith No, it was Sainz who won the qualy battle 10-9 in 2015. And when it comes to Max’s improvements, that mostly came from him learning how and when to pick his battles. In his first few seasons, sometimes he got into fights where it was obvious that he couldn’t win and then it ended up with crashes or penalties. But that happenes quite frequently with young drivers, because they want to prove themselves so they are “targeting” world champions who have the respect and the achievements they want. But in terms of pure speed Verstappen was very fast from day 1 and he also had excellent tyre managment. Ricciardo was only better in 2016 but keep in mind, that Verstappen had to switch teams during that year after the 4th race of the season, so he didn’t do pre season testing with Red Bull, his feedback wasn’t taken into consideration with the design of that car because he wasn’t there, so obviously Ricciardo had a massive advantage who was there for 3 years already and the car was built with his driving style in mind. In 2017 when Max was somewhat settled in the team he was immediatelly faster than Ricciardo both in qualifying and race conditions and basically he only lost in terms of points because of reliability issues and the crash in Singapore where he was innocent. So anyway the point is that taking on Verstappen was already a huge task when he entered F1 as a 17 year old, because he is a generational talent and Sainz lived to fight another day while many people had their career ruined by accepting this challenge. Then he was team mates with Norris who just retired the Money Badger by absolutely destroying him in the same car. Once again Sainz survived, on top of it he beat Norris both times at Mclaren. After that he ended up alongside Leclerc who is considered to be one of the fastest if not the fastest driver in qualifying on the grid and he edged him out on points and scored more podium places, obviosuly needed a bit of luck but even if we only look at pure performance then Ferrari was the most closley matched line up on the entire grid in 2021. I would also add that Sainz beat Norris again in 2021 while they were still in comperable cars, although not in the same team anymore. So I don’t think all of this should be forgotten because Sainz found a car in 2022 which didn’t match his driving style at all and had to change his style in order to get back on the pace.

          13. @JB22-You do realize that Verstappen and Sainz did 4 races in 2016 right? So Max won the overall quali battle between them. It has the exact opposite effect of what you said again. Max improved his raw speed. Numbers speak for themselves. He was hardly the driver he now is in 2015. Plus even though Sainz was close to Max in Qualifying he got dominated in terms of points 62-22. I don’t know how relevant you think adapting to a team is. A few years later both Ricciardo and Sainz faced Hulkenberg having moved teams. Sainz even got few races under his belt in 2017 to prepare himself but got beaten. So both the Max and Hulkenberg comparisons just proves Ricciardo was a better driver than Sainz. And just highlights what an outlier and disaster his McLaren stint was.

          14. @Malith I don’t think it’s wise to judge a driver pairing after 4 races, that still could go either way, even if someone is leading 4-0 in both qualifying and in the races. So that’s why I looked at 2015 where they competed against each other for a full season and it was quite close actually.

            “Ricciardo was a better driver than Sainz. And just highlights what an outlier and disaster his McLaren stint was.”

            Yeah and here we are, we have the Money Badger rated as the 19th best driver out of 20. I would probably agree that Ricciardo’s highs are better than Sainz’s highs but when he is at a low, that’s not only bad, it’s borderline embarrasing. Sainz on the other hand is rather reliable, at Renault it’s true that he got beaten by Hülkenberg, but there was only 16 points between them, so it wasn’t a disaster. This season he didn’t start well, but overall he got 9 podiums, including a win and when it comes to the drivers standigns you can’t ignore that he had 6 DNFs and most of them were reliability issues and other people crashing into him. So while the fans are always pointing out how Leclerc was unlucky which is correct, you have to see that Sainz suffered the same amount of relialibity issues and grid penalties + he was taken out by Russell and Ricciardo on lap 1 twice. So his season was also heavily compromised by things outside of his control. I think the driver who really underperformed out of the top teams was Slowrez. Because he is the one who really could have achieved much better based on his team mates 15 race wins and the 149 points advantage, so that’s a good car which was really wasted. Apart from him, Sainz and Carmilton were solid while GOATstappen, Leclerc and Sir George really stood out.

          15. @PHIL-Yes but Sainz is a better benchmark than whatever Ricciardo was at McLaren. However you are dreaming if you think Norris will dominate Sainz now. It’s a shame though that Norris is left in the cold this year after battling with Sainz in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

          16. @JB22-I did not judge Verstappen and Sainz by 4 races. But these 4 races are part of a normal full-season. So I have no problem adding them to the Sainz-Verstappen scoreline. So Verstappen beat Sainz in the qualifying battle not the other way around.

            I tend to rate drivers when they are at their best. However the Sainz-Norris McLaren pairing was very good. Maybe not at the Renault-Red Bull(or Toro Rosso) Ricciardo level though. It’s hard to criticize Perez given Albon/Gasly weren’t any better against Max and has shown themselves to be capable or even top 10 F1 drivers. The same thing was the case with Alonso at Ferrari a decade ago. Although not to this margin. Massa was criticized severely for his underperformance. But when Raikkonen who seemingly had 2 great years at Lotus replaced him Raikkonen wasn’t any better against Alonso.

    2. @thegianthogweed

      Ricciardo didn’t absolutely wreck his car on numerous occasions and I think he had at least as many occasions as schumacher when his performance was at least good.

      I agree that Daniel didn’t wreck the car as often.. but he was maybe a match for Lando on just a couple of weekends in the entire year. Schumacher was matching Magnussen pretty regularly in the 2nd half of the season. I know Norris is a more formidable teammate, so it’s hard to compare. But Mclaren did have more competitive machinery than Haas as well, and it seems like Ricciardo underperformed pace-wise to the car’s ability more than Schumacher did at Haas.

      Magnussen on pole in the sprint race in Brazil, while Schumacher was last was a major embarrassment, but in general, Schumacher didn’t seem miles off his teammate like Ricciardo was.

      Both of them were equally bad… the only reason I would rate Ricciardo lower is because he has the benefit of experience and better machinery.

      1. Schumacher was a match for Magnussen in race pace. But his qualifying is a serious liabilty. Probably the 2nd worst qualifier on the grid.

      2. @Todfod-Schumacher was a match for Magnussen in race pace. But his qualifying is a serious liabilty. Probably the 2nd worst qualifier on the grid.

      3. the only reason I would rate Ricciardo lower is because he has the benefit of experience

        I think this should be irrelevent. This raking is purely based on the drivers actual performance this season. It shouldn’t be judging drivers like ricciardo to have had a worse season “because he has the benefit of experience” than if he was a rookie for example. It is how they have performed this year.

        I still myself think ricciardo has had a better season than schumacher, ignoring how good i think Ricciardo should be based on experience. Factoring that in, Ricciardo has been a bigger dissapointment, certainly, but that isn’t the point of the rankings.

  2. Ouch.

    But based on this summary, deserved.

  3. I believe Ricciardo is in the same position Vettel was in 2020. Isn’t he? I believe same like Vettel the Aston Marton move would have been good for him. He will have a beatable teammate and end his F1 career in a respectable note. Unfortunately El Plan got in the way.

  4. However, if any team does decide to give him another chance at a race seat in the future, it will be despite his performance in 2022, not because of it.

    Thanks scoop.

  5. From the upside down part of the planet mysey, and like “our Dan”, but wouldn’t disagree with him being rated the most disappointing driver of 2022.

    Despite finishing just outside the top ten for WDC points, given the team and equipment that was available to him I really wouldn’t rate .him higher than Latifi on this year’s “performance “.

    So hop to it young fella and show us what you’re made of in 2023 if/when you get the chance.

  6. The few high points he had is why I agree with why he was rated above Latifi. For me he did have several races where he maximised the car performance but they were just so few which is why ultimately he was completely dismantled by Norris this year. Maybe if Norris had performed worse at more races then it would have made Ricciardo look better, but he didn’t and hence why I think such a low ranking is fair enough. At the end of the day, McLaren finished fifth and not fourth because of Ricciardo.

  7. I would have swapped Ricciardo and Latifi simply because of the enormous car and team advantage enjoyed by the former, but it’s fair enough that Ricciardo had a couple more notable ‘good’ races than Latifi.

    Still, it’s hardly a toss up Ricciardo should be a part of. His inability to come to grips with not just one but two entirely different McLaren cars is a big mark against him when teams start considering who to sign for the 2024 season. That and his age, of course.

    Wouldn’t be surprised to see him turn up in Indycar.

    1. Yeah – I think the two very different cars is a tough one to explain away. Drivers can have a bad season, struggle with a certain chassis for whatever reason.

      If this years car had been an evolution of last years, there could maybe some leeway.

      Two very different cars but the same teammate….. is way tougher.

      1. Yes. Norris is the best driver ever. You people sure knows how to put down a driver when he is in a team that doesn’t allow him to show his full potential. Even Norris cunningly implies this by saying he doesn’t like the car to put even more misery on Ricciardo and overhype himself.

        1. I remember when the Scuderia Sud Americana did not allow Fangio to show is full potential in 1958, even if the car was the same he drove to the title with Officine Alfieri Maserati the year before.

          I also remember that Super Aguri never allowed Yuji Ide to show his full potential. Heads had to roll for that to happen.

  8. Honda’s move to F1 was considered stupid and optimistic after they got dropped by McLaren. No one did believe in them. It was one of the reasons why Ricciardo left Red Bull when they announced their plans to work with Honda engines.

    As we have witnessed however, Red Bull did manage to offer the environment and Culture to Honda to return to Championship winning form. Let’s hope they manage to do the same to their once star driver who did hit rock bottom this year. This year was painful to watch if you are a Ricciardo fan. I truly hope he finds his mojo back in the Red Bull family. If not, then I’d like to remember him from those legendary shoey-moments of the first half of his career.

    1. Lets just pretend that the FIA didn’t just “fix” the regulations to allow Honda to become competitive by constantly hamstringing the developments Mercedes made in numerous areas with their engine. Honda’s return to championship form only came after the FIA destroyed the Ferrari engine and took away all the advantages the Mercedes had in terms of it’s short term power modes it could run for huge pace gains.

      Sure, McLaren hurt the Honda engine wanting the size zero packaging but there wasn’t some huge change in culture when they moved to Red Bull, they just stopped being under as many restrictions on packaging so could return to a better concept. Lets not forget Honda ultimately have tried running away from the sport again so it seems McLaren have probably made the right call for them for the long term. I doubt running the Honda engine they’d have been much better off now as most of their issues seem to still be on chassis and aero.

      1. Honda engine made little difference to RB. Their chasis and aero side made all the difference. At least initially. Their 2018 car with Renault engines and 2019 car with Honda engines were similar in performance.

  9. Still my favourite driver on the grid, hopefully being involved in a stable front-end car will bring back his confidence though I don’t see a scenario where he drives next season.

  10. I reckon Mick will be 18th, so the three overall worst & or most inconsistent performers will be the last three.

    1. Imo, Mick was more consistently close to Magnussen than Zhou was to Bottas. But Bottas completely dropped the ball since probably Monaco(7th round) and performed like a bottom 5 driver.

      1. Agree, I would see reason to place schumacher above zhou, but in the end the perception of the authors is what matters in these rankings, and based on the team mate battle descriptions it’s hard to expect schumacher would be anything but 18th.

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