Ricciardo message reaffirming F1 future ‘wasn’t a surprise’ to McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo’s statement reaffirming his commitment to remain in Formula 1 with McLaren next year “wasn’t a surprise”, according to team principal Andreas Seidl.

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

Ricciardo’s F1 future has been subject to significant speculation in recent weeks after a difficult start to the 2022 season with McLaren.

The Australian has struggled to match team-mate Lando Norris’s form, scoring 19 out of McLaren’s 89 points so far this season and recording just four top-10 finishes.

Ricciardo has a contract in place until the end of the 2023 season, but comments made in May by McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown about “mechanisms” within the agreement that could pave the way for a split only fuelled speculation.

Last week, Ricciardo took to social media to issue a statement reaffirming his commitment to race with McLaren in F1 next year after suggestions a number of drivers could replace him. 

Asked about Ricciardo’s message, McLaren F1 chief Seidl said it came as no surprise and that that it simply echoed the team’s own message about their focus on working together.

“From our point of view, there was never any speculation required,” Seidl said.

“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.

“That is what we are focusing on. The statement wasn’t a surprise, it was just confirming where we both are together, which is in line with what we say for several months.

“So, no surprises.”

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Ricciardo explained on Thursday that he wanted the rumours to be addressed “from the horse’s mouth” and that his belief he could compete at the very top of F1 remained as strong as ever. 

Among the drivers linked with his seat in recent months are IndyCar duo Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward, both of whom have tested F1 machinery for McLaren.

Herta completed a two-day test at Portimao earlier this month in McLaren’s 2021 car as part of its Testing Previous Cars programme, which has also afforded running to F2 racer Jehan Daruvala and sim driver Will Stevens.

Seidl said the primary purpose of the TPC running for drivers was to see who could fulfil the requirement to run a rookie in at least two free practice sessions this year.

“In order to comply with the regulations there, you need to find the right guys, and you need to give these guys also the chance to be properly prepared, to make sure that actually they can show what they are able to do,” said Seidl.

“The interest on my side is also quite high to make sure they are properly prepared, because they go around the tracks with our race cars, with our race engines in, with our race gearboxes in. And you don’t want to experience any surprises there. That’s the process we are in.

“The guys we have selected so far I would say are interesting talents. They have shown in different categories, and in Indy as well, they can pull off some great performances.

“That is why we are interested to see what they can do also in a Formula 1 car.”

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