Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren exit compared to Cristiano Ronaldo leaving Juventus

Daniel Ricciardo is out of contract at McLaren next year.

Former Formula 1 driver Jean Alesi is confident that, given the right car, Daniel Ricciardo can return to the race winning form he showed prior to his McLaren days.

Not all has gone the Australian’s way since he departed Renault at the end of 2020 and signed with Zak Brown’s McLaren team, and he has come under public criticism from the American for it.

However, the 17 points finishes and the deficit to team-mate Lando Norris does not tell the entire story about the 33-year-old’s tenure with the British side.

Ricciardo has been faced with a car that does not suit his style since his arrival, and both himself and the team have struggled to adapt to each other.

READ: Otmar Szafnauer reveals if Alpine will take Oscar Piastri and McLaren to court

When things have clicked, they have ended up with performance like that of the Italian Grand Prix last season.

Ricciardo qualified marginally behind Norris on the Friday, before finishing the sprint race third, earning himself a start from second on the grid when Valtteri Bottas got a grid penalty.

The former Red Bull driver took advantage of Max Verstappen’s crash with Sir Lewis Hamilton to win the race ahead of Norris, taking the British side’s first win since 2012.

It was also their first one-two since 2010, and a further example of the brilliance Ricciardo can achieve when he has the right surroundings, but rarely have things clicked with McLaren like they did last September.

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There are now rumours that his compatriot, Oscar Piastri, has signed with the Woking-based team following his refusal to join Alpine.

That move would likely result in Ricciardo returning to the Enstone team he left at the end of 2020 and, if his feeling with the car is as good as it was previously, podium finishes could well be on the cards.

Asides from that, Alesi appreciates the personality that Ricciardo has, so he hopes things will yet work out for him.

“Daniel is one of the biggest characters in Formula 1,” he told Give Me Sport.

“I don’t know one person when I meet F1 fans who is not talking about him because he is loved by everybody. 

“For sure, Lando is a new star for Formula 1 and with Daniel, sometimes you are struggling with a car, with new regulations, but there’s no doubt he will find a good place to end again back on the top. 

“I like Daniel so much and I like also this movement of the drivers in F1. 

READ: Valtteri Bottas has a request for Sebastian Vettel after his F1 retirement

“That’s great and is what we want, we want to see a [Cristiano] Ronaldo leaving Juventus and going to Manchester United situation.”

As for Piastri, in Alesi’s eyes, if two teams are willing to go into a legal battle for his services, then it must be a confidence booster for the reigning Formula 2 champion.

“It’s fantastic to see a young driver to be in the middle of two teams that want him,” added the Frenchman.

“Oscar made an impressive debut in motorsport – he won his first season in Formula 3 and in Formula 2. 

“This season he isn’t racing, and that, for me, is more shocking than what is happening now. 

“I think, with the new format of Formula 1 with the new spirit of Formula 1, all the young drivers, the fast ones, they will have a way to find a drive and that for me is best.”

As it is, Ricciardo still has a contract with McLaren that sees him remain with the team until the end of next season.