“I told you not to trust Zak Brown” - warning to Daniel Ricciardo exposed

A fascinating whisper in the F1 paddock last season to Daniel Ricciardo has added further drama to his McLaren exit.
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) McLare
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) McLare

The fifth series of Drive To Survive on Netflix showed some of the behind-the-scenes conversations involving McLaren CEO Zak Brown as he managed Ricciardo’s early departure.

Cameras picked up F1 journalist Roberto Chinchero whispering to Ricciardo “I told you not to trust Zak” after the news was confirmed.

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Ricciardo’s contract was terminated a year early by McLaren who opted to replace him with rookie Oscar Piastri.

Alpine believed they had Piastri under contract leading to a major controversy - the FIA’s contract recognition board ruled in favour of McLaren.

But Netflix filmed the chaos unfold.

McLaren’s Brown said: “[Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer] has been caught with his pants down. If I were him, I’d be very embarrassed.”

Szafnauer said: “I hate losing, it is painful for me.”

Brown: “If we can get Alpine to do a driver swap - Daniel for Oscar - that would be a great solution.”

Zak Brown (USA) McLaren Executive Director, in the FIA Press Conference. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day Two.-
Zak Brown (USA) McLaren Executive Director, in the FIA Press Conference…

Ricciardo’s future was bandied around the F1 paddock for many weeks last season, and Netflix showed how Alpine team members were receptive to his possible return.

A private meeting between Brown and Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi was also captured.

Brown: “I feel like I can help. Let’s close this thing out.”

Rossi: “We have Nico Hulkenberg, Mick Schumacher, Pierre Gasly…”

Brown: “Daniel? I’d love to see him stay in the sport.”

Rossi: “Maybe we’ll give him a chance.”

Alpine eventually signed Gasly to team with Esteban Ocon and replace Fernando Alonso, whose own exit was a bombshell move to Aston Martin.

Ricciardo will spend 2023 as Red Bull’s third driver.

He has little sympathy from Lando Norris, his ex-teammate.

“He’s a great guy, a lot of fun,” Norris told Netflix. “But if you don’t perform and get results? That’s life.”

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