Posted on June 1, 2022 Tags: Daniel Ricciardo F1
Daniel Ricciardo, in happier times, with Team CEO Zak Brown. Image courtesy mclaren.com
“IT’S DIFFICULT TO ACCEPT because for most of my career I was used to being one of the best guys on the grid or the top guy on the teams. It definitely makes you question, ‘Do I still have it?’ You get some of those doubts creep in a little bit.”
Daniel Ricciardo has not helped his case with McLaren after another underwhelming performance at the weekend’s Monaco F1 Grand Prix. After crashing in practice, followed by a poor qualifying session and starting 14th, Daniel finished 13th.
Then your Team CEO piles on you, and you really wonder where has all the love gone!
Speaking after the race, Daniel said he expected an uphill battle given his disappointing qualifying session the day before.
“We knew the day was going to be tough, obviously being Monaco, results are heavily based on qualifying so (that) really shaped the weekend.
“I think when we saw the rain come that was quite a surprise, just how quickly and heavy it came. We thought maybe there was some opportunity there – but yeah, obviously everyone kind of ended up filling into similar strategies.
“In any case, we ultimately just weren’t quick enough this weekend. So not much more to say.”
The Aussie admitted he was finding this season tough, having bagged just one top-ten result in seven races.
What followed was Team Principal Zak Brown coming out publicly to tell the world Ricciardo had “not met expectations” at McLaren since joining the team in 2021.
Brown then went one further, revealing there were “mechanisms” in place in which McLaren do not have to honour the Aussie’s three-year deal, which has drawn scads of criticism from fans and pundits alike.
F1 great Jenson Button is singularly unimpressed with the McLaren CEO’s comments and how Brown is managing the situation.
For example, when a McLaren engineer asked if the car was ok after Daniel hit the wall in practice (reply: “I’m Okay”) before even checking how his driver was, social media lit up and fans were livid.
“Zak is his own man and I can’t change his thoughts and what he says, but I was surprised that he came out and said that.
“Everyone with the team should be protecting these drivers.
“Formula 1 is a real mental game.
“They all have immense skill but you don’t perform if your head is not in the right place.
“I was surprised Zak came out and said he was not meeting expectations – we all know that.
“But when your team principal comes out and says that, it definitely hurts.
“From Daniel’s response, it hurt.”
F1’s Jenson Button
The Aussie’s response: those ‘mechanisms’ were “not false, it’s pretty true”.
“I’m hoping that they have talked since the race and they can just focus on really getting the best out of Daniel and the team around him for the rest of the year,” the British ace said.
“Then we’ll see where he ends up in the future. It’s not an easy situation for a driver.
“And then everything we see – he had the incident and the engineer said, ‘is the car okay?’ And Daniel replied, ‘I’m okay’.
“We all pick up on that as soon as we hear Zak be kind of negative about Daniel.
“It just spirals out of control.”
While Ricciardo has made clear he has a deal in place for next season, Button says if McLaren want him out, he doesn’t foresee the 32-year-old pushing the situation.
“Daniel came into the team in a very strong position,” he said. “I would say the contract is more in his favour, but there will always be clauses.
“To be fair, if a team doesn’t want you driving for them, you don’t want to be there – and vice versa. Normally there’s an easier way out of it than just the clauses in the contract.”
Meanwhile Mexican ace Sergio Perez has accepted a two-year contract extension with Red Bull until 2024 after winning the Monaco Grand Prix – becoming his country’s most successful F1 driver.
Sergio’s first win of the season puts him just 15 points behind world champion teammate Max Verstappen.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz claimed second while Max rounded out the podium, with polesitter Charles Leclerc – cruelled by a bad strategy – finishing fourth.
Respected commentator and former F1 driver Martin Brundle, writing in his Fox Sports F1 column, has criticised the delayed start of the Monaco race, referring to “heated arguments“ in Race Control.
“Holding up a race in anticipation of incoming weather is not necessary.
“We have virtual and real safety cars, red flags, pit stop crews who can change tyres in two seconds, and two types of wet weather tyres to cover those challenges.
“That’s what Formula One racing is all about!
“A couple of reliable sources tell me that there were heated arguments in Race Control during the impasse as we all looked on unsure of what was happening.
“This presumably explains the periods of inaction and lack of information, and the reason why the Safety Car was not out exploring track conditions as usual.”
The race officially started behind the safety car with all drivers using extreme wet tyres. It was stopped on lap 30 after Mick Schumacher had a massive crash that ripped his car apart.
The subsequent delay meant drivers had roughly 40 minutes of racing left at restart, with the race halted by the two-hour time limit before they reached the number of completed laps.
Lewis Hamilton was another of the frustrated drivers. While his teammate George Russell managed a terrific fifth, Hamilton was stuck behind Alpine driver Fernando Alonso and finished eighth.
Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher, Mick’s uncle, says Daniel Ricciardo dumping rumours ‘getting louder’ after ‘tough’ Monaco Grand Prix.
Schumacher said he was “intrigued” to see how the 32-year-old’s future plays out at McLaren, as statements within the team intensify.
“At McLaren, there are one or the other rumours,” Schumacher told Sky Germany.
“The rumours, as well as the statements in the team, are getting louder.
“He (Daniel) is just too far away from his teammate.
“I’m curious how the future looks for him.
“It will be quite difficult for him.”
While Daniel Ricciardo is contracted to the British team until the end of 2023, Schumacher thinks the agreement won’t count for much if McLaren decides they have had enough of the veteran driver’s floundering.
“If it stays the way it is now, I don’t see him at McLaren next year,” he said. “A lot is happening now. It will really start in August or September at the latest.”
Former world champ Nico Rosberg said Ricciardo’s woes are being worsened by the strong form of his driving partner Norris.
“Let’s not forget last weekend the engineers let him down and gave him a car that was not in the right place and that’s what caused the crash in the practice session.
“And once you have that, it’s almost impossible to find that rhythm again on the weekend here in Monaco.
“So I think we can let him off for this weekend.
“Nevertheless, it is a tough situation for Daniel with Zak Brown publicly saying he’s not living up to expectations.
“So it’s very important for Daniel, the next couple of races to do a really good job.”
Nico Rosberg, F1 World Champion
Lando Norris finished sixth in Monaco, bringing his tally of top-10 results to five this season. In stark contrast, Ricciardo has only managed one point-scoring placing, finishing sixth in Australia.
“This is the difficult thing for Daniel. Lando, he is driving at a world-class level. He is a future world champion. He is driving incredibly well and that’s making it all the more difficult in this situation,” Rosberg said.
After a short spell to catch their breath the Teams are off to the streets of Baku, Azerbaijan June 10-12, followed by the Canadian GP June 17-19.
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