McLaren’s blatant Ricciardo lies exposed

In late July, McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl publicly confirmed the team’s commitment to Daniel Ricciardo.

“We have been clear from our side that we have a contract in place, and our sole focus is together with Daniel on finding these last percentages in terms of performance,” he said.

But the team had already signed Oscar Piastri some three weeks earlier. McLaren confirmed late Friday night (AEST) Piastri would be in Ricciardo’s seat in 2023 after the Contract Recognition Board found in their favour.

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While it’s believed that July 4 contract was formally a reserve role, mechanisms were in place that it could easily be upgraded to a race role should a seat become available – or in this case be made available.

In the paddock of the Dutch grand prix, Ricciardo revealed he didn’t know about Piastri’s contract, and so it seems then that the squad lied to both Ricciardo and to media. Shock horror.

“To be honest, on the date, that’s the first I’ve heard,” he told Sky Sports.

“I’m not aware of obviously time lines and this and that, what the team’s discussing.

“In terms of timelines – also I guess what the team does preparing Oscar – that’s not also my business in terms of what day they spoke, this or that.

“If that’s the case, then so be it. It’s not really my decision to make.”

It’s been a nightmare two years for Ricciardo at McLaren. He has struggled to get up to speed, and has been thoroughly trounced by young teammate Lando Norris.

Ricciardo admitted he was aware there were ongoing talks about his performance.

“To be honest, already before that date, let’s say months, we were already discussing not my future goal of course where we could improve to try to have a better future with the team,” he said.

“I’m aware there were going to be talks ongoing.”

But is Piastri – a 21-year-old with zero F1 race experience going to do any better than Ricciardo, an eight-time grand prix winner?

Seidl says yes.

“There’s two reasons why we wanted to have Oscar. I think he has shown in the junior categories that he is something very special and has a lot of potential, plus I think also in terms of personality, I think he is a perfect fit into our team. That should be the main focus of the news,” he told Sky Sports in the paddock at the Dutch grand prix.

“We are absolutely convinced about his talent and about his potential as well. Oscar as well a bit, he’s young, he’s full of energy, he has the right amount of self-confidence as well, but at the same time he’s very humble and he’s aware of how big the challenge is next year.”

Piastri is highly-regarded by both McLaren and Alpine engineers, who have publicly stated his feedback and technical knowledge is first-rate.

“I think we are a team that’s shown in the past we can do very well and handle very well young guys coming into the sport, and therefore I’m looking forward to get going with him next year.”

Seidl acknowledged while the CRB involvement in the dispute was a distraction in the teams preparations for the Dutch grand prix, he said they were never concerned they would rule in Alpine’s favour.

“In terms of a Contract Recognition Board, for us that was never a case,” he said.

“Therefore I guess it’s better you ask the other party involved why they thought they have a case, and therefore this is not really any surprise for us.

“It’s important now we can look to the future, it’s important now to focus at the same time on the final eight races of the season together with Daniel and Lando. We want to finish this season in a good fight with the Alpines and then we focus on next year.”

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