Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has noted that McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo is continuing to struggle at McLaren, but believes the Australian still shouldn’t be written off.
Ricciardo was out-qualified by Lando Norris 15 times in 22 races at McLaren last season having joined from Renault, and his 13 points finishes last year made for difficult viewing as the 32-year-old struggled to get to grips with the distinct car and power unit.
He did, however, claim the team’s first win in nearly nine years at the Italian Grand Prix, leading Norris home for their first one-two since 2010.
Ricciardo managed seven wins during his time at Red Bull, and was the shining light aiding their underwhelming 2014 season alongside four-time champion Sebastian Vettel at the start of the turbo-hybrid era, so Dr Marko is very aware of his talents.
“Daniel still seems to be having a hard time at McLaren,” he told Sport1.
“But writing him off would be a mistake. We know what he can do.
“And not just because he looked strong against Vettel in 2014, but because no one else here has been on par with Max Verstappen. And it wasn’t that long ago.”
The Austrian wants to see his former driver do well, but joked that being third behind Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez will suffice.
“I wish him success but it’s enough if he finishes third behind our two drivers,” he added.
The eight-time constructors’ champions have endured a rough time of it early doors in 2022 as well, failing to make Q3 for the first time since 2020 in Bahrain, before Ricciardo and Norris finished 14th and 15th respectively in the race.
They enjoyed slightly better fortunes in Saudi Arabia a week later as Norris scored their first points of the season in seventh, but a reliability failure for the Australian put him out of the running.
Team principal Andreas Seidl affirms that his team are working flat-out to resurrect their competitive form of last year.
“We are [working] really hard now back home in order to understand why that is to define how we can get back on track as quickly as possible, because Lando and Daniel deserve a better car,” he said.
Ricciardo is currently out of contract at the end of 2022, while Norris signed a deal over the winter that keeps him at the Woking side until at least the end of 2025.