McLaren boss reveals Ricciardo’s F1 fate

McLaren boss Zak Brown has given the strongest indication yet that Daniel Ricciardo will continue with the Formula 1 team into 2023.

In recent months, doubt were cast over the relationship between the respective parties amid non-committal comments from both sides.

It’s been a lacklustre 2022 season to date for the Australian, whose best result remains sixth at his home grand prix in Melbourne earlier this year.

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Speaking with Fox Sports’ Jessica Yates, McLaren CEO Zak Brown firmed his desire to keep Ricciardo onboard.

Yates probed, “So what is Daniel’s future with McLaren? Will he see out his contract?” Brown replied confidently, “Oh yeah, yeah.”

Speculation has been rife regarding Ricciardo’s future, although there has been little to suggest he might land at another team.

The 33-year-old, who celebrated his birthday at the recent British Grand Prix, has been soundly outperformed by his younger teammate Lando Norris.

Norris sits seventh in the drivers’ championship on 58 points while Ricciardo has just 15 with three points scoring results to date – one which came in a sprint race.

Brown’s freshest comments are a positive step in the right direction after noise made earlier this year indicated contract termination “mechanisms” were on the table.

Those, however, seemed to lie in the hands of Ricciardo rather than the team.

Brown added fuel to the fire when he said Ricciardo hadn’t been meeting the team’s expectations, though the team boss attests that didn’t create any friction.

“No, not at all within the race team,” Brown said of any headbutting.

“I know it caused a lot of ripples outside. Daniel and I have a great relationship. We had dinner in London not too long after that, we’re trading WhatsApps all the time.

“Someone asked me a question and I gave them an honest answer. It’s the same answer Daniel has given and would give, which is we’re not where we want to be.

“I think on the flip side, if I said everything is great, some would say, ‘Really? You’re happy with 12th?’ Of course, I’m not happy with 12th.

“It was just an honest answer, it wasn’t meant to be critical. It doesn’t mean we don’t think he can’t win us more races, it doesn’t mean we’re not trying unbelievably hard, quite the opposite, we know he can win us more races.

“We’re trying unbelievably hard, but given his resume and how Lando is going, do we expect him to be right next to Lando? – whether that’s right in front or right behind – yeah, and so does he. We’re going to get there and we’re totally committed to it.

“I saw a former grand prix driver went, ‘Well we all know it but I can’t believe you said it’, and it was like, ‘well, if we all know it, then what’s the big deal that I said it ?’ It wasn’t intended to be other than someone asked me a question, I gave them an honest answer.”

Ironically, it was that rev-up that brought Ricciardo his most recent batch of points in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Brown joked that he maybe needed to give the eight-time grand prix winner a poke more regularly.

“Maybe I need to do that a little bit more often,” he chucked.

“He’s a fighter and his results since we’ve said that, that’s not how they were intended, he’s been much closer to Lando and beat Lando. So maybe there was something to a little bit of firing him up.

“When you look at this different athletes, you see coaches that yell at their players. It wasn’t an intended consequence.

“I think we just keep pushing hard. We love working with him. He loves the team. We’ve seen when we give him a car that’s capable of winning, he can win in it.”

Ricciardo will be in action this weekend at the Red Bull Ring for the Austrian Grand Prix, which gets underway on Sunday at 11pm AEST.

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