Norris’s demolition of Ricciardo leaves McLaren facing a 2023 dilemma

2022 F1 team mate battles: Ricciardo vs Norris

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Before Daniel Ricciardo began the second year of his three-season deal to drive for McLaren, the team gave a clear sign its faith in his position as team leader was less than total.

Lando Norris, who had been the team’s leading scorer in 2021 by 160 points to Ricciardo’s 115, was signed to a new, extended deal less than 12 months since he inked his previous one. The implication was obvious, much as when Ricciardo learned his new Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen’s contract had been extended past the end of his, following which Ricciardo never signed another deal with the team who brought him into F1.

Norris’s new contract surely did not mean McLaren felt Ricciardo’s performance this year was a foregone conclusion. After all, he began his first season at the team with precious little testing in a car Norris already knew well. Now Ricciardo and McLaren were better acquainted, surely the MCL36 could be crafted to better suit his needs?

But it hasn’t worked out that way. Past the halfway point in the season, Ricciardo’s performance and results stack up no better alongside Norris’s.

Ricciardo and Norris race-by-race results

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(L to R), Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris, McLaren, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022
Ricciardo’s Bahrain result proved a false dawn
True, Ricciardo missed a day-and-a-half’s pre-season testing in Bahrain due to Covid, but the effect that had on his preparations has to be weighed against the fact that test was so badly disrupted by McLaren’s brake system problems Norris was able to complete all three days without a substitute driver. And it’s not as if Ricciardo’s been poorly served by reliability, with just one retirement due to a technical failure so far this year.

At the season opener in Bahrain Ricciardo led Norris to the flag, but there was no cause for celebration as the pair took 14th and 15th. Fortunately for the team its form has improved since then; unfortunately for Ricciardo the same has not been true of his season.

Over the 13 race weekends so far, Ricciardo has only out-qualified his team mate twice. One of these occasions was in Canada, where Ricciardo was the quicker of the pair as they progressed from Q1, but Norris was unable to set a time in Q2 due to a power unit problem.

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Ricciardo and Norris results summary

As Ricciardo almost invariably lines up behind his team mate, often with several of their key midfield rivals separating them, he is left to play catch-up on race day. Among the few occasions he came out ahead, in Baku, McLaren told their drivers to hold position for tactical reasons in the closing stages, having asked Ricciardo to maintain his place behind Norris earlier in the day.

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, Silverstone, 2022
Doubt hangs over Ricciardo’s future
The upshot is Ricciardo has tallied just four points-scoring finishes. Norris has been a far more regular visitor to the top 10 and at the summer break his score dwarfs his team mate’s: He has more than four times as many points as Ricciardo. That is an extraordinary margin, one which would be a cause for concern even if Norris was a seasoned veteran and Ricciardo a callow rookie.

Ricciardo has said on more than one occasion that his difficulties lie in not being able to feel the ultimate grip limit in the car, particularly as track conditions improve late in qualifying sessions. He has spoken of feeling slightly more comfortable in the car since the Monaco Grand Prix, but there hasn’t been much in the raw results to show that’s the case.

The sad truth is Ricciardo’s performance so far in 2022 hasn’t been the improvement which was desired by many and expected by probably even more. It has been worse, which is no doubt why the team is reportedly weighing up whether to show him the door a year early, even if doing so carries an eight-figure price tag.

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Ricciardo and Norris qualifying performance

Unrepresentative comparisons omitted. Negative value: Ricciardo was faster; Positive value: Norris was faster

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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125 comments on “Norris’s demolition of Ricciardo leaves McLaren facing a 2023 dilemma”

  1. Dan’s performances are certainly a problem. He showed such skill at Red Bull. He’s like Button or Latifi or Palmet now, a nice fellow but perhaps unsuited to drive a car in F1.

    1. I feel we were maybe put on the wrong foot a bit about his RedBull stint. He beat Vettel which led us to believe he is WDC material. Yet Vettel proved not so great after all but merely lucky with a car that always got pole and led from the front. Some say but Ricciardo did beat Verstappen, but that was in Max’ first year at RB and wasn’t exactly like the dominance we see now from for instance Lando vs him. So I think Ricciardo has been a Perez, Hulkenberg, Massa, Barrichello, etc all along.

      1. @Mayrton Good observation.

      2. I think you can’t dissociate the driver from his car when evaluating them. And Ricciardo looks more and more like Vettel in the sense that they are incredible when the car suits them. There is no denying that drivers such as Verstappen, Hamilton or Alonso can fight a car that doesn’t suit them and still extract something out of it, while I’m not sure it is true for the likes of Vettel and Ricciardo. This year was always going to be interesting on the driver ranking and performance with such a change in behavior and it appears some coped better than others…

        I would also be interested to hear if any team is working with AI optimization to find the “best lap” and if some drivers can take the input on track. I also wonder how long we are before the recruitment is based on simulator performance rather than lower categories, this would definitely make F1 more achievable for all and not require as much investment as currently while being more relevant to find the driver that suits the car the most.

        1. It would seem that the window for a car that suits Ricciardo is extremely small at this point.

          1. Why? He wants a car stable under braking, I can’t imagine that’s a huge ask.

        2. Sorry but I can not label a driver suitable for F1 if he needs a car to suit him. That seems something for other racing categories. This is supposed to be F1 and I will judge them by that level ;-)

      3. Rather odd take, given Vettel has been one of the best drivers in F1 for over a decade. He has been competitive on Bridgestone and Pirelli, with V8s and V6s engines, with narrow and wide cars, with four different teams and three different engine manufacturers, won more races than anyone except Hamilton and Schumacher, both of whom benefitted from many successive years in utterly dominant cars, ran circles around Raikkonen at Ferrari and Webber at Red Bull (mostly after the switch to Pirelli) – both of whom are FIA world champions in F1 and WEC respectively, won titles in battles against proven champions like Button, Hamilton and Alonso.

        It’s fair enough to note that he didn’t always perform at his best, but not even Schumacher did that (though he might have been able to claim that had he not returned with Mercedes).

        Getting the most out of an F1 cat is complex and hard. That Ricciardo did so in 2014 doesn’t mean anything in 2022. Certainly not that anyone he’s ever bested is therefore, and always has been, “worse”, while everyone who ever bested him is forever “better”.

        1. “Many successive years in utterly dominant cars”?? Schumacher had a dominant car in 2001, 2002, 2004, those are 2 successive years.

          1. 2000-2004 they were pretty dominant although I’ll give you 2003 was a closer year. The 94-95 car was also dominant albeit probably illegal. The championships were only close due to FIA interference.

        2. Not sure what Vettel you have seen. I will remember a guy fast on track when there is no one around. Never won if not starting from the front row or max up to the third starting position. Not an all round driver at all. Never had an impressive season anymore after leaving RedBull.

          1. You are kidding aren’t you? What about his great drives in the not best McLaren? Had great wins. Also he was at one with that V8 red bull making no mistakes. He was primetime. Not a very intelligent way to look at a 4 time champion ignoring his wins!

          2. *not best Ferrari I meant

          3. He is no good in wheel to wheel. Hardly qualifies as a valid champion imho

      4. Well that proves it then – the commenters on this site know precisely nothing about F1. SMDH.

        Ricciardo did beat Vettel in 2014, a defending 4xWDC. He was, in many people’s opinion, the best driver on the grid in 2014.

        He also beat Max 2 years and the third year, 2018, Ricciardo retired from over 40% of all the races that year so please spare us the nonsense.

        Good lord!

        1. This whole discussion is rather moot. Red Bull’s Renault had plenty of issues throughout all those seasons for both drivers. At the end of the day they were pretty evenly matched, Ricciardo often had one-lap pace advantage of a tenth, and Max often had a more consistent race pace that was sometimes a few tenths ahead of Ricky. Given the gap in their experience, and Max’s lack of maturity in the early years, it should probably have been a bit of a bigger gap in Ricciardo’s favour, but that doesn’t really matter. Fact is, he was in a car that could occasionally get poles and win races and Danny did just that during that time. Good job, all in all.

          But that Danny is not the Danny McLaren has driving for them, so it ultimately doesn’t matter. This Danny is not on the same level as his teammate, he’s not extracting the maximum out of the car, he is not getting points for the team. He’s just not. And that’s the driver McLaren is evaluating. Not the driver that in 2017 beat a talented 19-year-old teammate with just 2 years of experience in F1.

        2. He did so well vs Max that he decided to run away

          1. That is not what happened and you know it, or don’t know because you are ignorant and it feeds your ego to write lies.

          2. Because it perfectly makes sense to leave a top 2 or top 3 team for a drive in the midfield, led by Abiteboul? He had already seen what non Max fans unfortunately for them will not easily see. I remember a friend of mine not being fond on Michael Schumacher. While largely agreeing with him I still made the case it was worthwhile to shake that prejudice off and just enjoy was is being displayed and what history is being made. There is no scenario where Lewis drives for another 50 years. Let’s enjoy the new batch of drivers Lando, George, Charles and Max (and probably George)

    2. @bukester
      What’s your specific Button reference, 2000-2008 (or something within this period) or his last four seasons?
      Latifi & Palmer are clear-cut cases as underperforming drivers, but JB is less so.

      1. @jerejj

        Button’s 2012 season was miserable. He had the fastest car on the grid, and I remember Lewis fighting for wins and podiums while Button battled backmarkers and was scraping in to the points. He was dead last at Monaco I think, while Lewis was fighting for the podium.

        The second half of Button’s championship winning season wasn’t great either. He was outscored in the last 10 races by 4 drivers on the grid, including his own teammate. He got one podium in the last 9 races, while Rubens was fighting for wins more regularly.

        1. And Hamiltons 2011 season was miserable – so what’s your point?

          2010 Button and Hamilton were pretty evenly matched. 2011 Button had a good season and Hamilton had a bad season. 2012 Hamilton had a good season and Button had a bad season.

          I’m so sick of hearing this nonsense.

          The counter argument to this I always hear is that even though Hamilton had a bad season in 2011 he still won 3 races. Yeah, well guess how many races Button won in 2012 – THREE.

          And you want to talk about miserable performances in Monaco? How bout you look back just one year to 2011. Button was fighting Alonso and Vettel for the win on much better tyres and was about 50m from lapping Hamilton before the red flag came out.

          1. @nick101

            And Hamiltons 2011 season was miserable – so what’s your point?

            the point is that even in Hamilton’s miserable 2011 season, he was faster than Button. He outqualfied him that year and even took more race wins.

            The point is that when Button cannot adapt to the car, he’s as fast as a Latifi. Which is never the case with a top tier driver like Hamilton, Alonso, Verstappen,etc.

          2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            11th August 2022, 14:56

            @nick101 most of the point difference between Button and Hamilton in 2011 was in Canada where Button collided into Hamilton and then went on to win. Had he not taken him out, they would have come very close.

          3. @todfod

            Oh that’s right, I forgot that points were handed out on Saturdays. Oh, no they’re not.

            And Hamilton won more races than Button in 2011 did he? Wow, seems like me and the rest of the planet missed that extra fantasy race that Hamilton won that year.

            Slow clap for you.

          4. Lewis is or was an aggressive driver going from 2010 to 2011 (Bridgestone to degradable Pirelli) Lewis was one of the casualties, Lewis struggled to get a grip on the downforce (EBD) which also aided Buttons smooth driving but in the end they both had three wins each. In 2010 didn’t the pit crew ask Lewis to slow down so that Button can pass him in turkey? Martin Whitmarsh did everything to impose Button over Lewis
            In the 2012 Lewis was fighting for wins where as Button gave up on the season, Lewis constantly having 30 secs long pitstops at various races, Lewis had the chance to win the 2012 season but all of the support has gone to Button because Lewis has decided to leave Mclaren. Remember at Canada where Lewis lapped Button, or Spain where Lewis Started at the back and still beat Button

          5. @nick101

            Sorry.. my bad.. they ended with the same number of wins. Lewis had more pole positions though.

            I really don’t understand what point you’re trying to make though.. are you saying Button is better than Hamilton. A 1 time circumstantial WDC is better than a 7 time WDC who’s broken pretty much every record in F1?

            Surely you’ve watched F1.. and I’m hoping you’re not that thick in the head. Or wait… are you Jenson?

        2. @todfod Button finished 2 points behind Hamilton. So wasn’t a ‘miserable’ season compared to his team mate.

          1. @sato113

            Hamilton lost nearly a 100 points through mechanical retirements, team errors and drivers taking him out. Button had one team error and one retirement the entire season.. losing less than 25 points. Maybe you should recap some facts from that season.. the quali stats and race pace stats between both the drivers that season. Unless you feel points paint an accurate picture for you all the time.

          2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            11th August 2022, 14:57

            @sato113 the 2012 season was very lopsided. Button looked really, really bad.

          3. It’s pointless, they’re deluded. They hate it so much that Button didn’t get thrashed by Hamilton and in fact beat him in points over the period. Button himself admits Hamilton was the better driver but he still deserves credit for how he pushed Hamilton in those 3 years. Hamilton wouldn’t be the driver he is now without the 4 years he drove alongside Alonso and Button.

    3. @bukester That’s Jenson Button, Formula 1 World Champion, that Jenson Button?

      1. The negative comments on Button above are utter rubbish. How on earth do you get to compare Button with Latifi and Palmer. Laughable.

        Jenson had plenty of average cars and did very well with them. He was I think, the only driver with Lewis as a team mate to finish ahead in the season’s standings to date. This may happen again this year of course.

        1. Doh! Apart from Rosberg of course ;)

          1. And Alonso.
            They were level on points, same number of wins, same number of 2nd places, Alonso had more 3rd places than Hamilton.

          2. PG, you’ve got that the wrong way round. Hamilton was ahead of Alonso in 2007 on countback.

      2. 2009 button won 6 out of the first 7 races by country mile in blown brawn, which was outlawed by the British GP , Buttons points lead was not catchable while he was driving a illegal car…so as much as l like Jenson l would rate him the softest WC of all time .

    4. Button or Latifi???

      What in the hell are you talking about? Button is a world champion (who won in one of the least dominant “dominant” cars of the last 15 years) and beat both Hamilton and Alonso in the same car.

      1. While I agree that putting Latifi and Button in the same bucket as far as their capability in F1 is concerned is silly @nick101, I have to take issue with your ‘least dominant’ bit, as that car was one of the most dominant cars and thus won just about all races in the first half of 2009, which is what set up Button to carve out a big enough lead that his skill in keeping the car in the fight during the latter half as it was only barely in the top 3-4 of cars was enough (together with Red Bull unreliability and Vettel mistakes) to win a brilliant WDC.

        Compare 2013 with the reverse happening in; Vettel didn’t do great with the Red Bull (Merc’s as pole machines, but eating tyres) then with the tyres being changed as his team wanted and the team developing their car, he dominated the field. Yes that car was more consistently top of the field, but even so, it is mainly the Brawn tailing off towards the end of the season why we don’t think of it as dominant they way it was when the season started.

        1. His “least dominant” comment means the car was only dominant in the first half, red bull was the best car of the 2nd half and brawn gp struggled, button couldn’t do much better than he did in the 2nd half with the car he had.

        2. Ah, I see you said that as well towards the end of your 2nd paragraph, saw 2013 and thought you were done talking about 2009.

      2. Check your facts Nick about how button won a WC 2009 in a blown brawn that had a double diffuser that was banned by the British GP of 2009 , effectively all of 6 wins of buttons in the first half 2009 were in a illegal car…buttons car had a massive advantage and once fair play for grid happened they couldn’t catch his points.. it was a sham.

      3. Esploratore, Button won in a DOMINANT CAR

    5. A classic case of believing your own hype. He developed a sense of entitlement without earning it. Frankly he’s not as good as other people have told him he is and spends far too much time acting the fool to try to smokescreen his deficiencies.
      Anyone can drive a good car fast. The mid-pack is where you find out if you’re any good, and I for one have always known the answer to that one.

      1. Wrong PG how did Alonso beat Lewis? LH was 2nd Alonso was 3rd, Lewis had more 2nd places not the same. Lewis basically won on goal difference in football terms so still a win. He had 6 poles to Alo 2 aswell.

        What i do know is swap Lewis or Alo with either Ferrari driver and 07 08 has no great title fight or great season Ferrari woulda dominated. Lewis and Alo had good 2 tenths on either of them

      2. Totally agree

    6. There is no dilemma. Just get rid of RiccIardo!

  2. Was musing about this on Tumblr the other day and I think the problem is that Ricciardo shows where McLaren actually still is. Sainz and Norris were an essential reset at Woking and Seidl has absolutely pushed the team forward, along with other important hires like James Key. The team was able, ultimately, to get to grips with regulations it should never have been so behind on and to make a good recovery but moments last year – like losing the win at Sochi – showed how much it still fumbles, even on strategy.

    Norris might not especially like the current car but McLaren are a team he’s supremely at home in and understands how to talk to to get the car as much like how he wants it as he can. They are not a top team and can’t interpret feedback like a top team, however, so when they thought they were ready for a top team driver I feel that was sadly premature.

    McLaren obviously wanted Ricciardo so badly they were willing to let Sainz waltz off to a team they then got beaten by the subsequent year. Whatever it was that made them think they’d be back at the sharp end, before the 2020 season, was half-proven by them coming third then but that was more Racing Point dropping things than McLaren running away with it.

    Norris is, no doubt to Ricciardo’s annoyance, really, incredibly good. But then Ricciardo’s come up against really, incredibly good people and beaten them before – Vettel in his first year in Red Bull, Verstappen in 2017, he made Ocon look like a bumbler, even if he was still finding his feet again, etc.

    So I think the truth is Ricciardo is probably just driving the car to where it roughly, actually is. Norris is clearly out-performing it and maybe the truth is actually somewhere closer to a medium between them but the things that make Norris good in the car aren’t anything particularly to do with his driving style, which has adapted a lot over the time he’s been in F1 and are almost certainly down to being able to find the extra tweaks because he knows how to tell them to McLaren.

    Ricciardo clearly either can’t express his own needs in a way McLaren understand or they can’t communicate back what would help. There’s still shortfalls in the facilities the team has to understand stuff and it clearly thought it was ready for a top team driver again. But maybe should have kept the top-of-midfield one it had.

    1. @hazelsouthwell Okay, there are several flaws in the logic you’re applying here:

      1)

      McLaren obviously wanted Ricciardo so badly they were willing to let Sainz waltz off to a team they then got beaten by the subsequent year.

      That’s revisionist history: McLaren only _needed_ to sign a new driver to replace Sainz, as he had signed for Ferrari to replace the departing Vettel. McLaren didn’t _let_ Sainz do anything, he was a free agent after 2020.

      2)

      like losing the win at Sochi – showed how much it still fumbles, even on strategy.

      Much though I’m a huge fan of Norris, I think this was more a case of youthful exuberence having been leading for so long causing him to fail to take the safe option which meant he might’ve still won, not McLaren fumbling the strategy. It was Norris’ call where he refused to box for Inters

      3)

      I think the truth is Ricciardo is probably just driving the car to where it roughly, actually is.

      No I think it’s more like Ricciardo is a one-trick pony (late braking) and without that, he’s a midfield driver. He’ll certainly never win a WDC.

      1. @nvherman

        1) they said at the time that they’d deliberately made no effort to prevent Sainz leaving, hadn’t attempted a counter-offer, etc when he told them that he had had the offer made. Given it was lockdown and nothing was moving very fast, they certainly could have attempted to keep Sainz – instead, they seemed happy to get another chance to grab Ricciardo.

        2) Norris got asked if he wanted to pit, while he didn’t have the right information about more rain coming. His call was wrong but McL’s was as well and it came from that place of not being used to being at the front – I’m definitely not the only one who’s said this, including McLaren themselves.

        3) Well writing about F1 would be quite boring if we simply picked an attribute for each driver and then stopped analysing, wouldn’t it…

    2. Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel are currently demonstrating that every team benefits from the best driver, no matter where they are on the grid. They are reliable, experienced in changing conditions, have good race craft, give solid and informed feedback, and tend to stay out of the midfield melee.

      Ricciardo says he can’t find and feel the limit of the car. Nobody else can tell him, not even Norris. Norris himself might feel there’s more pace in the Mclaren that can’t consistently find. It seems the Mclaren is a tough car to drive, but that’s hardly a first. It certainly didn’t stop Schumacher from winning at Benetton, or Verstappen at Red Bull.

      1. I seem to remember that not entirely working out for Alonso at McLaren just a few years ago.

        1. @hazelsouthwell Think that was more to do with the “GP2 engine” which was never fast enough to push the chassis hard, nor did it last that long either. The Honda powertrains only really came good after three seasons when they swapped to Red Bull-owned teams

      2. Not sure what “that” is. Drivers can’t design cars, and even most engineers can’t design engines. So the tools were bad, but Alonso still delivered more 5th and 6th places than a team at the tail end of the grid can reasonable expect.

        I doubt there’s a single engineer in F1 who’d rather get feedback from Tsunoda and Mick Schumacher than from Alonso and Hamilton. Even if that doesn’t immediately translate into on track improvements, at least they know the driver’s take is solid, informed and reliable. And maybe their facilities and budget aren’t on par with Mercedes and Red Bull, but having great drivers is never a bad thing (provided they’re not a huge drain on the budget).

        Ricciardo is just not delivering what Norris keeps demonstrating the Mclaren is capable of. Far from him being ‘too good’ for Mclaren, they are probaby currently looking how to grt him out and put someone in the car who can at least match Norris.

    3. Casual_RF_reader
      11th August 2022, 10:29

      Interesting take, Hazel. Especially since I myself had that thought about Ricciardo maybe showing us the actual level of the 36 the other day.

      But I dismissed that thought as quickly as I had it. Why? One, because out-driving or out-performing a car is a myth. You can’t squeeze pace out of a car it doesn’t have. Even if drivers themselves (looking at you, Alonso) have used to perpetuate that myth to laud their own abilities.

      Yet there is the big factor that is adaptability. For me this is the big differentiating factor between great and the top drivers (that’s what Alonso is actually amazing in). And in this department Ricciardo has just fallen flat on his face the past 1,5 years and Lando has proven his worth.
      Lando is simply driving closer to the limits of the car and consistently. It’s clearly not a great car, but you’ve got to work with what you got.

      And I can’t imagine it’s superior communication skills that give Norris the edge here. Lando mostly can get a setup that works for the 36 and as he said in Hungary he’s extremely open in data sharing. And if that’s not enough for Danny since he’s got another driving style, well then he has to adapt. Something he just can’t do with the McLaren apparently.

      Just to be clear, I’m not hating on the guy. I was so pumped when he joined the team last year, him being a race winner and a top bloke. I really had high hopes and I’m sad that it probably will end like this. But it just wasn’t a good match unfortunately.

    4. I find this a really weird comment, and miss to see the logic in many parts.

      They are not a top team and can’t interpret feedback like a top team, however, so when they thought they were ready for a top team driver I feel that was sadly premature.

      So it’s not Ricciardo underperforming, but the team?

      Ricciardo is probably just driving the car to where it roughly, actually is. Norris is clearly out-performing it

      Yeah, probably because Norris gives it 105% :P

      Rather than just criticise I’ll give you my PoV: Ricciardo is (or at least was) a very good F1 racer and WDC material. He just appears to have a smaller operating window than drivers like Alonso, Hamilton, and Verstappen.
      We can argue for hours (and I did yesterday) if the team should develop a car more to his liking/needs, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is clearly not at the same level as the other guys mentioned.

    5. @hazelsouthwell I reckon that’s a pretty good summary.

      I’d add a couple of other things.

      I think Dan is a bit jaded after years of “next year we’ll give you a great car” only to be delivered something pretty uncompetitive at the start of the season. Even, or especially, at RBR, they consistently messed up the chassis and it took pretty much 1/2 a season to get it right to the pointy end. It really cost him the WDC that pretty much everyone had him marked down for and I think that tends to wear one down after a while.

      I’m also convinced that teams (engineers) are relying way to much on data and data modelling and not paying attention to driver feedback and actual track experience. I’ve worked in the data industry for way too many years and have seen companies make some absolute howlers of decisions because “the data modelling said that was the way to go” when any competent human analyst could see that it wasn’t. It makes me wonder whether the engineers are basically saying “that’s the optimal car design for maximum grip because that’s what the data says” when in fact it’s not even close.

      But yeah – I agree – it’s quite possible he’s driving the car about where it’s at.

      1. Yes data analysis can be an issue. It seems part of the problem at Ferrari as well this year. Not listening to the drivers or asking them.

        1. I would not put Vet in that sentence he goes life and death with Lance Stroll hes going off and having quite a few scrapes aswell. He has the weakest car but also by far the weakest teammate. Vettel is no benchmark in a car no more. Stroll is weak and Vet should be 20 secs up the road every race tbh but he’s not. Look what Max can do to Checo or Lewis to Bottas regularly 20 secs up the road. Checo had way bigger gaps to Stroll so do the maths the Aston is way better than the drivers are doing with it.

          1. There’s also the possibility stroll improved a little with more experience, I’m not defending vettel obviously, but I personally was expecting stroll would beat him, he at least proved he’s not bottom of the barrel, so I think some credit should be given to stroll rather than say “stroll is bad no matter what, it’s vettel that is also bad”.

    6. So this came from the comments section of another site but someone claimed Ric is very weak at car setup. Apparently, engineers at Renault were shocked by how little he could tell them about the Red Bull. If the McLaren is tough to drive and if Norris is good at setup then this might explain why Norris has such an advantage.

      1. Red Bull stated in public, once it became known that he was leaving for Renault, that they were going to heavily restrict his access to information about their car and exclude him from the technical debriefing sessions to limit the amount of information he could take to Renault.

        Why should Renault then be surprised that he couldn’t tell them much about Red Bull’s cars?

        1. Your right ofcourse Daniel wasn’t so interested in techno stuff as he wasn’t a nerd … His own words. I think the nerdy boys who are now driving have a big advance to adjust much beter to new designs.

    7. I think its simpler than that. DR’s star is waning, hes getting old (in f1 terms) and only a few, Lewis/Alonso can maintain their performance level over such a long time. DR isnt the outlier, Lewis and Alonso are. Usually drivers do peak plateau and wane- See Vettel. Thats all it is.

      1. Ricciardo is nowhere near old enough to experience age related decline, if anything vettel and raikkonen are outliers in that they declined fast, alonso I agree is an outlier the other way around, it may have been the 3 years out of f1 or the neck accident, but not even schumacher was relatively so competitive at that age.

    8. Always great to get your insight, @hazelsouthwell. Thank you.

    9. Was musing about this on Tumblr the other day and I think the problem is that Ricciardo shows where McLaren actually still is

      I have said that about Perez and RedBull in 2021, but then all … breaks lose on this forum hahaha.

  3. No I think it’s more like Ricciardo is a one-trick pony (late braking)

    Still…… when it works it’s a pretty good trick.

    1. oooops.

      That was meant to be a reply to @nvherman

      1. @cairnsfella Do you disagree with my assessment that he’ll never be WDC?

        1. @nvherman No I do not disagree. In fact I’d probably make a small wager that he will never be WDC. But that doesn’t mean I think it’s completely impossible.

          To be fair though, with situations such as that which he is in now, his age, and the alternative available upcoming talent, many of even the most die hard Danny Ric fans would not likely disagree with you.

          1. I would bet ALL my (admittedly not many) money that he will never be wdc, simply because a top team is necessary and the door to a top team is now shut for him, plus he’s a button: he would need very special circumstances to win a title at all.

  4. I have to respectfully disagree with a few points you’ve made.

    ‘They are not a top team and can’t interpret feedback like a top team, however, so when they thought they were ready for a top team driver I feel that was sadly premature.’ Perhaps I am misinterpreting this but it sounds like you are inferring the ‘top teams’ exclusively have the most talented and competant engineers and therefore because McLaren are a mid tier team they only have mid tier engineers who aren’t able to ‘unlock’ the potential of Ricciardo. This completely disrespects the incredible talent of engineers within all of the ‘lower teams’.

    ‘I think the truth is Ricciardo is probably just driving the car to where it roughly, actually is. Norris is clearly out-performing it and maybe the truth is actually somewhere closer to a medium between them’ I don’t know where this phrase/idea of ‘out-performing’ the car first came from but it certainly wasn’t from any engineer (at least not seriously) as it is just complete nonsense. Certain drivers aren’t able to magically bend or break the laws of physics to make the car go faster around a track than it should be able to. There will be a theoretical minimum lap time that the car can achieve based on its performance and track conditions (in reality there are far too many variables and unknowns to accurately calculate) which Norris is simply able to get closer to more often than Ricciardo.

    1. sorry, was meant as a reply to @hazelsouthwell

      1. I didn’t pick up on your comment until after submitting my similar reply above.
        A pity the reply function skips a beat when refreshing the page and the reply then ends up as a new comment.

    2. We all know what out performing a car means. It is a colloquialism for driving a car a lot faster than it would go in the hands of most drivers. There are tons of similar sayings that if taken literally can be picked apart. But they aren’t meant to be taken literally.

    3. @jdc123 Definitely not disrespecting the engineers, who are excellent up and down the grid and in many other series. However, the truth is that McLaren is not operating with the same resources in terms of data correlation and things like wind tunnel, etc, that top teams are – Seidl has said this plenty of times. It’s not a slight to say that F1 is complicated and having more developed resources gives you an advantage.

      Similarly, McL are working with a lot more than Williams right now. Both longstanding teams, they just haven’t quite got the right infrastructure for the modern era or the bits they’ve now got, they haven’t had long enough to work with to the same level as Merc/RB/Ferrari.

      1. Mclaren are placed exactly where they should be relative resources – 4/5th in championship, averaging 4th/5th fastest car. How given that you can say Ricciardo represents where they actually are, that would place them 8th/9th, which is clearly nonsense.
        Someone said it elsewhere … he seems to have a sense of entitlement and dosnt put in the work. Hes known not to value the simulator, and keeps thinking going off on hols for a reset is the best thing he can do. It was a terrible decision to hire him on the wage Mclaren are paying him

        1. Yes, I don’t really understand how anyone can claim a driver who scores 1\4 of his team mate’s points (and here there’s not much luck or bad luck giving the wrong picture) is performing where the car is, that would make the other driver a god. Reality is norris is doing a verstappen and ricciardo doesn’t deserve to be in f1 with this level of performance, and that is coming from someone who would put him among the top 8 current drivers if he were at his red bull level.

  5. Your title question has an obvious answer without doing a deep dive. He was obviously much stronger last year than this year. So, kind of a pointless question. I think DR can return to his old self getting back into a car with a strong/sharp front end and looser rear (which allows him to brake and rotate how he likes) and a change of atmosphere. I actually think DR would prefer to be in the Alpine next year rather than the McLaren if it becomes an option.

    1. I actually think DR would prefer to be in the Alpine next year rather than the McLaren if it becomes an option.

      And the good part is that he can probably drive at Alpine with his McLaren salary.
      I guess it takes a bit longer only to sort out the company car arrangement.

  6. There’s a really good video on YouTube by Driver61 talking about why Ricciardo is struggling:

    https://youtu.be/TVKeBAyIjyw

    I don’t know if it’s 100% accurate but it’s a very interesting watch. It sounds like the McLaren just doesn’t suit his driving style and he hasn’t been able to adapt to a new style that results in him being fast.

    1. One can wonder if at F1 level we should accept drivers that need a car to suit their style. Sounds something more for a junior category. I feel we are way too lenient to this kind of defense. Either you are pinnacle of Motorsport worthy or you are not. I frankly get fed up with how many mediocre drivers we have, given there are only 20 seats in the world. So from 7 billion people these are the 20 best? Hard to believe and is tied to the massive amount of money and network that is needed to get a chance as a driver. The result is that I as spectator am watching two daddy got me a seat kids and a bunch of other privileged mediocre drivers. This has nothing to do with best performing and talented athletes.

  7. Ricciardo has been thoroughly found-out at McLaren, and that was long overdue. One of the most overrated drivers of the last decade or so. To be honest, if I were holding the reins at McLaren, I’d have called time on him after Budapest. Looks like they’re going to sack him anyway at the end of the year, why not do it now and pay up and put someone else in for the rest of the season? If not Piastri, then De Vries or Vandoorne – guys with nothing to lose and a point to prove. Ricciardo looks done. Toast.

    As for Norris – he deserves to be up at the front. Hopefully McLaren can give him a car capable of that soon.

    1. Good suggestion which would allow other talent to have a go and probably will earn you more in the constructors challenge. I feel we are way to nice vs drivers and hold on to them too long. This is a sport, not a social group. Sport is about winners and losers and losers get eliminated from the competition.

  8. Give Felix a try, he is already in the team :-)

  9. Is it worth the rumoured £25 million plus to McLaren to dispose of Daniel’s services early. I am not sure it is really. They might be making noises but I am not sure it’s worth it. Will it cost them more to finish 5th in the constructors compared to 4th, if indeed this possible outcome can be laid at Daniel’s door?

    Having said this if Daniel gets an offer from Alpine for 2023 I think he should bite their hand off. Their car might suit him better and he has nothing to lose really. I am not sure about him taking a spot further down the grid pecking order though. Does he really want to drive for Williams or similar. The only alternatives appear to be Alfa Romeo or Haas. I think he might choose something outside of F1 if this does not work out.

  10. I’m sure he will be back if he gets the shot at Alpine.
    This guy got Vettel and Max beaten in the past, went to another team and did pretty good there too, considering the car.

    We have like 7 good seasons of a variety of cars and 2 bad ones at Mclaren, who is said to make very particular cars these days.

    He should take a good deal and leave while there are seats worth taking, he won’t improve there anyway.

    1. That is very big to say he had Max beaten he had beter results but those renault years were terrible with DNF for both drivers which clouded both performance a lot. As a old champion said the points are scored on Sunday… Max race pace was steadly increasing over the seasons so in the end you can say safetly that Max overtook Daniel.

    2. Why not retire and let a new person get a chance. Seems like the way better option. We have got enough mediocre drivers as it is.

  11. Historically McLaren (and for that matter most teams) have been able to build a car that suits one driver, not two, unless the two drivers have very similar driving styles (e.g. Rosberg & Hamilton) or one of the drivers is extremely adaptable to the car (e.g. Alonzo). An outlier in this analysis is LeClerc in a car built around Vettel.
    The current Redbull (for many years now) has been built around Max; The Mercedes around Lewis; the Ferrari around LeClerc the McLaren around Lando. I believe almost any driver you put into the car alongside would similarly struggle.
    Ricciardo going back to Alpine would be a good thing as Alpine (FKA Renault) already have a baseline for him and whereas the current car was likely built around Alonzo, they would do well to take another shot with Daniel rather than Ocon.

    1. This is a nonsense! No-one builds a car around a driver. Especially in a new regulation year. The team will build what it considers to be the fastest car that it can. They may develop it towards one drivers preferences once they know what the platform they have to work with is, but the initial design will be ‘generic’.

      1. Really, so you think it’s mere coincidence that every other driver that has gone up against Max in the last few years, thinks the Red Bull is a bear to drive?! This year’s car might have started out more as a level playing field and Checo gained some confidence as the year has gone on, what’s the result: Checo struggles and Max is leading the championship handily. Coincidence, right?

        1. This

          This year’s car might have started out more as a level playing field and Checo gained some confidence as the year has gone on, what’s the result: Checo struggles and Max is leading the championship handily. Coincidence, right?

          is exactly underlining what @asanator said:

          They may develop it towards one drivers preferences once they know what the platform they have to work with is, but the initial design will be ‘generic’.

      2. Agree to differ. Dr. Death publicly stated the RBR and the team would be built around VER. Clearly that was a catalyst for RIC to jump ship. Other #2’s since have had a woeful time.
        Believe when PER came RBR realised they had to dial out some of the Max Factor [sorry 😉].

        I note that NOR has only driven a McLaren F1. Interesting to see him drive another chassis.
        Perhaps it is that stat. that Zak thinks may help PIA [yes, he has/will have tested other chassis, but they are short-term gigs only].

    2. Can we please stop with this suits the driver narrative? They have reached F1. I expect them to drive anything and be the best at it. Kindergarden is over. This is no place to wait for a car that suits you.

  12. Guys, Ricciardo was driving for Red Bull since 2010 i believe. Testing, Toro Rosso years… Marko and all the engineers had all data available. They didn’t want him until Webber was out. They even chose him over Vergne just because of qualifying pace. Yes, his performance was surprisingly good but you really think he’s better than 2010-2011-2012-2013 Vettel just because he won in 2014? So why Red Bull never treated him like their new star, as soon as their beloved Vettel leaves they start to search a new guy and find him, they sign Verstappen, it was late 2014. Vettel out, Verstappen in. Ricciardo could think “I kicked out Vettel, I’m showed everybody I’m better, I’m the honey badger, baby, I’m the next champion” but the truth Red Bull never believed he’s what they need.

    1. They didn’t want him until Webber was out because it was WORKING with Webber there. Why change it if the guy is still young and willing to wait?
      And Vettel only got the seat because Coulthard vacated it first too, so what?

      And the best thing you can show in a slow car is that you can be fast. He did show that. Vergne, just like Alguesuari before him, only did show that he was good exploiting the tyre rules, saving a lot of new tyres for race day by qualifying badly then coming 7th as if it was a big deal. For a top team that gets to Q3 every race, that’s as meaningless as it gets.

      And i don’t think nobody in the world ever thought he was better than Vettel because of ’14. That season was good for the world to see he was legit and could be a contender given the right circunstances.

      The guy is no fluke because of 2 bad seasons.

      1. It was obvious Vettel will get a Red Bull seat after making some promising rainy drives like Japan’07 (even if he collided with Webber during safety car period), China’07 or Monaco’08. Coulthard anounced his retirement on 3 July, Seb’s birthday, what a funny coincidence. Anyway after that he won in Italy and was constantly gaining points. In case you forgot he earned more points than Webber and Coulthard together, 35 vs. 29, it was not just that famous Monza win. The only young Toro Rosso driver who was constantly grabing points here and there that way was Max Verstappen in 2015. Both Vettel and Verstappen were shining at Toro Rosso. Ricciardo didn’t. Neither before nor after. Yes he always can tell his grandchildren he beat a 4-time world champion but how then he will explain his miserable driving beside Norris? Second year in a row? Why so dispirited now, is this the same cocky Ricciardo that some years ago was making jokes with Vettel’s face on his bath towel? Is this that Daniel that smilingly threatened Norris that he will end him?

        1. I mean neither before Red Bull nor after.

        2. Russell was a Mercedes driver for years as well. The engineers have all the data.
          Yet he only got the seat now. Maybe they didn’t think he was that good, not because the pair Hamilton/Bottas was bringing the results… lol

          You’re seeing way too much into it, even turning inoffensive banter into cockyness.
          Vettel’s supporters don’t seem to have forgiven the Honey Badger yet.

          The fact that he is not the next big thing (he is just a little bit younger than Vettel anyway) does not mean he’s a not a quality driver. Not everyone can be like Verstappen.

          1. There’s no need to offend Ricciardo, it’s pretty much clear that he overhyped himself by relatively successfully challenging Vettel and Verstappen simply when they were not at their best. At least he earned some multi-million contracts because of this so I think he can mix todays bitter pill with some high-quality whiskey.

          2. As for Russell… I truly don’t remember anybody seriously talking about replacing Webber by anyone else from Toro Rosso. Yes, there were talks about Hamilton or even Alonso and of course Red Bull’s reaction was we don’t need two roosters in a chicken coop, everything is working well with Webber (or was it Ferrari’s phrase about replacing Massa with anybody else?) Anyway. Nodoby then mentioned Ricciardo/Vergne/Buemi/Algersuari as a real deal. Russell is another case. After ruining Pascal Wherlein hopes, after letting go Esteban Ocon there’s another Mercedes pupil stuck outside in Williams… and people literally begging Mercedes to take him before it’s not to late.

          3. Vettel was never had as an once in a lifetime driver either. But once you have a driver program, you’re supposed to take them as options. And that’s what they did from Vettel to Albon, until they ran out of drivers.

            The only significant alternative to Ricciardo to take Webber’s seat by 2013 was Kimi, and more on the media side than by any hint from Red Bull. And when they signed Ricciardo, no one said a thing. It felt earned. He did enough to be promoted, even if some weren’t paying attention.

    2. I think you mean Vettel out, Kvyatt in don’t you?

  13. We’re talking about a driver whose peak was to beat Vettel in a personal troubled season back in 2014, where both raced at a general similar pace, unlike his performance gap to Norris now. I won’t take this from him though, results are results after all. Being the only non-Mercedes driver to win spoke way higher than his actual performance as it should. Fair enough.

    But, next thing we know, he takes a beat from a ‘rookie’ Kvyat.

    Then, he took on an immature Verstappen, counting on reliability to beat him. Then, he got bigger sympathy than Max for being beat by the same problem the following season.

    But what was evident to me throughout those years is that if there is a driver who was lucky to have Red Bull and Newey behind was Daniel. He is indeed a one-trick poney. He can’t pull nothing he had back then anymore. He did not fare good at Renault. He is abysmal at McLaren. People cut him some slack because he is likeable.

    Truth is, he is just a top 2nd tier driver who can be surprising sometimes under a specific package. A 1st tier driver dominates under those circumstances.

    He has got disposable to McLaren, and if I’m Alpine, I wouldn’t sign him back. Now, for Alfa-Romeo or Haas, then it is another story…

    1. And what would be to “fare good” at Renault to you? A midfield team all around, got half a dozen of drivers since 2016, including Alonso, and nobody did much . But he did more than anyone else, easily.

      Based on what he didn’t fare good if the only reference we have, the other drivers, did way worse?

      1. I’m pretty sure flopping dive bombs, mowing home soil’s grass, knocking his teammate out, having a ludicrous parking accident on a racing track and such is anything but good.

        He blown lots of opportunities, but because we’re talking about the honey badger, his glass will be always half full.

        Ocon, Alonso & Vettel last season, Norris since 2020, Gasly past two seasons, they all showed more than Daniel at this Renault spell.

        1. Wow.

          If it is true that people tend to take it easy on him, you’re for sure overcompensating on the hate.

          1. Hate, really? Are u that outraged?

            I’m sure I’ll see somewhere that same passion while defending Vettel, Button, Rosberg or, say, Stroll, no?

            Didn’t think so.

          2. I’m not outraged.

            I just think youre biased and making baseless statements.

            What did Ocon ever did besides that lucky win that was better than Ric’s 2020 season? And Vettel at Aston Martin?

            That’s utter nonsense, to say the least.

          3. Saying Ocon had lucked into a win isn’t biased at all, eh?
            Let’s just agree to disagree and carry on.

  14. Best case scenario, whomever replaces Riccardo beats Norris and upsets the team balance.

    Worst case he’s as bad as Riccardo and everyone laments all that wasted time and money.

    Worst of all, there’s a pretty good chance that Riccardo will do well at Alpine.

    1. The truth is something in the middle: whoever replaces ricciardo will be beaten by norris but not so comprehensively, and that will be a massive upgrade.

    2. I highly doubt that whoever replaces Ricciardo will beat Norris. I think Lando makes the McLaren seem like a better car than it is which makes it seem Ricciardo is doing worse than he is.

      Maybe in his second year Piastri would be close to Norris but I don’t expect him to come in and dominate.

  15. I think something that might be getting overlooked is that Lando Norris is a really, really fast driver. Years ago, he took part in a young driver test at Hungary, and posted the second fastest lap time (behind Vettel in the Ferrari)… in a McLaren Honda.

    But Ricciardo’s performance just hasn’t been there this year. There’s something about the McLaren that’s as difficult for him to drive as the 2014 Red Bull was for Vettel.

  16. Is it, as many others have pointed out here, that Ric is being put in the shade by Norris performing so well in the car by comparison? And so Norris is the one who is listened to to drive development. Is this the weakness in the McLaren, that their car is still middling, having a small sweet spot and poor feel/feedback and unstable particularly under braking, all as a result of following the best performing driver?
    Much in the way that Stoner rode the Ducati in MotoGP, does a drive in sync with a vehicle hide its issues, but also hinder it’s development?
    Personally I’d like to see both Norris and Riccardo driving for other teams to better assess both then and McLaren

  17. I remember how exciting Ricciardo was to watch back in the day. We can all spout all the analysis we want, but a mediocre driver is very rarely exciting to watch – although there are of course those weird and wonderfully odd moments (Stroll in a rain hit Brazil, whenever that was). But, for sure, a mediocre driver is never consistently exciting to watch.

    Ricciardo used to be a lot of fun to watch, over several seasons. He is an excellent driver. But only given the right machinery, it seems – as many of you point out. The last few seasons have been woeful. What a shame; almost all of us wish the best for the guy with the cheekiest grin on the grid. If only he had the power to turn a pumpkin into a carriage, like Alonso can. It’s a surprise he can’t, given that – comparing to Alonso again – he has an equally untuned sense of when to move to a new team and which team to pick.

  18. If you are a front running team you want a clear nr 1 and a help. Ref Ham-Bot and Ver-Per. But McLaren isnt, so they need two good drivers… Until they become successful. So ditch the smile boy get Piastri in and by the time you get successful be ready for lots of fights between your two roosters.

  19. Ricciardo is an excellent driver, though I’m not sure if he’s the team leader his personality makes him seen.
    He’s an enigma when the stars align, but I’m not sure if he’s capable of aligning the stars for himself and his team the way some other drivers can. He really is the guy who you want to root for, who brings a positive vibe to the garage and a faith that good results are possible even if the cards are not in the team’s favour.

    The sad thing is that without results his personality is starting to fall flat and even feel somewhat hollow, while (and of course I don’t know him personally) I feel that the smiles and the jokes are genuinely who he is.
    With leaving Red Bull he basically said “I deserve better than a team that’s not built around me”. But while showing ok results at Renault and in lesser form at McLaren, I never felt that he really warranted the bold statement he made with leaving Red Bull. Not in results, not in leadership, not in dragging a car or a team to places where it doesn’t deserve – of course these are personal observations.

    In many interviews he says he’s still 100% committed and still is the same capable racing driver. I feel he needs to come to terms with “things not working out” first. You can only build yourself up if you’re willing to break yourself down and start over. I feel Ricciardo can do great things being the underdog, he only has to acknowledge to himself that he’s no longer the big promise and team leader, before he can be a proper underdog.

  20. For whatever reason Ricciardo can’t get the most out of the McLaren. Not every driver can be a top level driver every year especially if they are not at one with the car. He still has strong value though, the F1 world doesn’t forget talent, just like how Kubica got an F1 drive after 7 years away and missing most of his right hand movement. Ricciardo can get back to a winning position in the right environment, but I would like to see him switch to McLaren’s Indycar team for a year or 2, his aggressive overtaking would fit in perfect in that series, and a 7 times race winner would have no trouble getting back into F1 if he is successful in Indycar

  21. The scenario that doesn’t seem to get much air time here is one where McLaren would be delighted to keep on Daniel Ricciardo if he agreed to a substantial pay cut.

    Aside from winning Monza last year, Ric also outscored Lando after the summer break. Ric remained strong when Lando went into a confidence slump after he threw away the win at Socchi.

    If Ric comes to the party on a pay-cut, i can see him staying at McLaren and hanging Oscar Piastri out to dry

  22. Put him out of his misery please. Put me out of this misery… it’s been a hugely disappointing number of years since he left Red Bull. McLaren should be ahead of renault this year and should have beat ferrari last year but instead they had Ricciardo in the second car. Not worth the publicity. Better to score more points.

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