As rumours swirl about getting axed by McLaren, Daniel Ricciardo has spoken out about what he really sees in his F1 future.
Daniel Ricciardo says he has a “handful” of good racing years left ahead of him, reaffirming his commitment to continue in F1 as rumours swirl about his future.
The Aussie is enduring another difficult season with McLaren — his second with the team since signing a three-year deal after quitting Renault — prompting waves of news reports and discussions among motorsport pundits about how long his meagre results can be tolerated.
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Monaco used to be his favourite circuit, but last weekend Ricciardo limped to a 13th-placed finish after qualifying 14th on the grid, once again outshone by teammate Lando Norris, who crossed the line in sixth.
McLaren boss Zak Brown recently acknowledged Ricciardo — who struggled massively with adjusting to a new car in 2021, finishing eighth in the drivers’ standings — hasn’t lived up to expectations since making the move from Renault, but committed to working hard and finding a solution to the Honey Bader’s woes.
Brown also hinted at a potential get-out clause in Ricciardo’s contract, that could see both parties split up before the full three-year term if results continue to slide.
But despite the frenzy around his situation, Ricciardo is keeping firmly focused on his goals, which include remaining on the F1 grid for years to come.
“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.”
However, Ricciardo knows how many years he has left may not be entirely up to him. He needs a team willing to give him a contract.
“I want to keep carrying on for a handful of years, but there’s no guarantee,” he said.
“Yes, I’ve done F1 enough now that people know that I’m capable driver. But people also forget, there’s no guarantee that in two years’ time, everyone’s going to be like, ‘We want to sign you’.
“There’s not 10 contracts under your door, so it’s in my hands as well, and not only my desire, but of course my competitiveness.”
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.
Speaking after Monaco, McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl opened up on Ricciardo’s troubles.
“In general, Daniel says it himself, he still doesn‘t feel 100 per cent with the car, especially when it’s about pushing it to the absolute limit in qualifying,” Seidl said. “He’s up against a very strong teammate as well, with Lando, and if you put both things together, that’s the gap we are sometimes seeing.
“All we can do, together with Daniel, with a commitment on both sides, is to simply keep working hard in order to find these last percentages.”
Former F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve said after another grim weekend in Monaco McLaren will look to move on without Ricciardo.
“Daniel Ricciardo’s time at McLaren is over,” Villeneuve wrote in his exclusive column for Formule1.nl.
“CEO Zak Brown is now saying that there are clauses in his contract, and that means that a decision has almost been made. It’s a way to put the pressure on the driver and prepare the media.
“Ultimately, he has been a highly-paid driver who has cost the team a lot of money. He doesn’t bring in any points and he doesn’t have the speed the team needs to develop the car. So he’s just costing them money.
“It would be cheaper for them to continue paying Ricciardo’s salary, let him sit on the couch at home and put another driver in the car. It’s a harsh reality, but that’s Formula 1.”