With Daniel Ricciardo’s impending exit from McLaren now official, we ask in this week’s Pirtek Poll if you think he has been treated fairly.
Ricciardo and McLaren have “mutually” agreed to part ways at season’s end, at which time a year would still be left on the Australian’s contract.
Countryman Oscar Piastri is the favourite to take over his seat, although that signing rests in no small part on how the Contract Recognition Board rules on the tug of war between the Woking squad and Alpine.
Regardless, Ricciardo is out after two thus far underwhelming seasons in orange, notwithstanding his victory in last year’s Italian Grand Prix.
With 14 races down and eight to go in 2022, he is 13th in the drivers’ championship and six positions behind team-mate Lando Norris, with just 19 points, or exactly a quarter of the Briton’s 76, to his name.
It is a far greater disparity than even last year, Ricciardo’s first with McLaren, when he was outscored 160 points to 115 by Norris and finished two positions behind in eighth in the standings.
Then, his issues could be explained by being at a new team, and hence in an unfamiliar car, with sweeping new technical regulations in 2022 offering the opportunity of a reset.
Clearly, that has not borne fruit.
It is a puzzling fall from grace for a man who is, one should not forget, an eight-time grand prix winner, and previously regarded as a world championship-winning prospect.
Bearing that in mind, McLaren arguably shares some of the blame, and Team Principal Andreas Seidl did admit, “it was also to me a surprise that we didn’t get it to work because with everything Daniel has shown before.”
Sky Sports pundit Martin Brundle told Speedcafe.com earlier this season that Ricciardo had been “better than his results look”, and it is not an unreasonable assertion when one considers the tribulations which the 33-year-old has gone through in 2022.
Round 1 in Bahrain was his first since catching COVID-19, an infection which forced him out of the final three days of pre-season testing.
After the Spanish Grand Prix, a fault was found on his car which explained why he could do no better than 12th in a race in which Norris finished eighth.
Then in Monaco, a practice crash which the team subsequently took responsibility for left him on the back foot.
Still, Ricciardo has been significantly outperformed by his team-mate, and McLaren has access to all the data which it needs to make the most informed decision on its driver live-up.
Furthermore, the ousted Australian will receive a fat contract payout, potentially net of what he will earn next year should he manage to land in a Formula 1 seat at another team, such as Alpine.
In any event, F1 is a cut-throat business, and a level of jeopardy is to be expected.
With that in mind, do you think Ricciardo was treated fairly by McLaren? Cast your vote in this week’s Pirtek Poll.