Daniel Ricciardo hits back at F1 critics amid McLaren disaster, contract twist

Daniel Ricciardo is under the pump but the Aussie driver has given his critics a reality check as he fights for his future at McLaren.

Daniel Ricciardo isn’t losing faith — even when so many people in F1 might be.

The Aussie driver is enduring another miserable season with McLaren — his second since quitting Renault — and rumours are swirling his days in papaya are numbered.

Ricciardo’s latest result was a disappointing 13th-placed finish in Monaco, well behind teammate Lando Norris, who outshone his senior comrade once again to cross the line in sixth.

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But while some, including former world champion Jacques Villeneuve, believe Ricciardo’s time at McLaren is nearly over after team boss Zak Brown acknowledged he hadn’t met expectations, the man himself is confident he can fight back.

“It kind of ebbs and flows where sometimes I’ll get down on myself,” Ricciardo told Crash.net in an exclusive interview. “But then other times, I’m fired up and motivated to prove a lot of people wrong and prove myself right.

“More times than not, I’ll kind of chuckle at the doubt. Because even last year, for sure, there were times where I was trying to figure it out.

“But already in April and May (last year) there were articles like ‘he’s lost it’ but six months earlier in 2020 I was regarded as one of the standout drivers of that season.

“The reality is I’ve not forgotten how to drive in six months, I haven’t lost my competitive edge, it’s just kind of a moment in time that I knew I could come out of.

“You are always going to get people saying this and that. It is what it is. It’s up to me in the car to prove them wrong.

“But no one’s going to get into me more than myself as well, so someone telling me that I need to pull my finger out is not going to change me because if they are telling me to pull my finger out then I’m telling myself much more.”

Brown revealed last month there are “mechanisms” in the contract between the two parties that could terminate it early, before the full three-year term is up at the end of 2023.

That led to speculation about performance clauses in Ricciardo’s contract, perhaps giving McLaren the freedom to cut the 32-year-old loose if his run of poor results continued.

However, Scott Mitchell of The Race reports McLaren cannot choose to end the working arrangement early, but Ricciardo can, because the clause is in his favour.

After Ricciardo’s well-documented 2021 struggles, there have been precious few signs of improvement in 2022, apart from a sixth-placed finish at his home grand prix in Melbourne. His next best result after that was 12th at the Spanish Grand Prix — where he dropped from ninth on the grid.

Norris has 48 points in 2022 compared to Ricciardo’s 11. The Brit has finished inside the top 10 in five of seven races this year, including a podium finish at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, and Brown said recently the young gun has a clear “edge” over Ricciardo.

But as rumours swirl about the Honey Badger’s future, he remains committed to F1 and believes he has several good years left of racing of him.

“The more people ask me (about retirement), I’m like, ‘F*** that, I want to stay longer!’” Ricciardo told RacingNews365 in an exclusive interview when asked about his “shelf life” in the sport.

“What’s my shelf life? I still think there’s a good handful of years left in me competitively. But, if I said five more years, and in my fifth year I start winning a bunch of races and I’m fighting for a world championship, I’m definitely not going to retire at the end of that fifth year.

“So it’s relative as well to competitiveness (and) desire.”

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