The “great mystery” of Daniel Ricciardo’s decline...

Daniel Ricciardo enters the New Year no longer as an F1 driver - and the people he leaves behind still can’t explain what happened.
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) McLaren.
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) McLaren.

Ricciardo finished 11th in the F1 standings for McLaren, drastically behind teammate Lando Norris, in a torrid year where nothing went right.

He commanded the joint-fourth biggest pay packet in the list of F1 salaries so McLaren opted to terminate his contract for 2023 and replace him with rookie Oscar Piastri.

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McLaren CEO Zak Brown could not explain to Speedcafe why Ricciardo’s decline happened: “We don’t know. We have certainly analysed it. We gave it everything we’ve got, Daniel gave it everything he’s got and our relationship with Daniel was great.

“It was clearly disappointing for both of us as to the outcome. I think it’s a great mystery as to why. I don’t think Daniel knows, we don’t know, we tried everything. Maybe we worked too hard.

“Ultimately that’s why we both decided to make a change because we had tried everything and we really didn’t know why it wasn’t clicking.

“So hopefully a change of environment for him [will mean] he’ll get his magic back because for sure he’s a magical guy. You saw in Monza what he’s capable of, and he’s done that seven other times. But we needed to make a change because we couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong.”

Ricciardo will be the third driver for his old team, Red Bull, this year after rejecting opportunities to remain in the F1 2023 driver line-up.

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