‘It’s the opposite’: Lando Norris addresses accusation of sabotaging Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo is set to leave McLaren at the end of the season.

It’s been a mixed first half of the season for the McLaren F1 Team, with Lando Norris leading the ‘best of the rest’ in the Drivers’ Championships, and Daniel Ricciardo outside the top ten.

Norris has once again been the star performer for the Woking-based team, with the Brit currently holding seventh in the championship.

The same can’t be said for Ricciardo, who after 13 races has scored just 19 points, compared to Norris’ 76.

With this in mind, Norris has faced calls that he’s trying to play “mind games” on the Australian driver, something which he doesn’t understand.

READ: Ferrari react to claim that Charles Leclerc is ‘more emotional’ than Carlos Sainz

“Mind games? In what way? What mind games can I play? No, it’s the opposite,” said Norris.

The Brit revealed that he gives Ricciardo all of his data, something he wouldn’t “normally do”.

“I’m trying to help him as much as I can,” Norris admitted.

“It’s for the benefit of us as a team, to try and beat Alpine at the end of the day. [Ricciardo] sees everything that I see in terms of data and everything.

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“I’m offering more help than what I normally would, let’s say. If we were fighting for a world championship, I’m saying more things than maybe what I would do.

“That’s what we need for the team, it’s what I want for the team at the minute. So yeah, the opposite of mind games, whatever that is – mind soothing!”

Norris won’t be needing to give Ricciardo his data for much longer, with the Honey Badger looking increasingly likely to be leaving the team at the end of the season.

Despite being contracted until the end of 2023, McLaren have reportedly signed Alpine F1 Team reserve driver Oscar Piastri to replace him next season.

Ricciardo had initially been saying that he wouldn’t leave the team and would see his contract out; however, he’s now told McLaren bosses how much he wants to walk away from the fifth-placed side.

The 33-year-old has demanded £17 million to not race for McLaren in 2023, therefore opening the door for Piastri.

This fee is based on whether Ricciardo doesn’t race in F1 next season, something which looks unlikely with the Australian being linked to replacing Fernando Alonso at Alpine.

Ricciardo is known to be one of the favourites to take the vacant seat at the French team for next season, something McLaren will be hoping happens.

Should Ricciardo drive for Alpine or any other F1 team next season, then the £17 million fee will be massively reduced.

READ: Lewis Hamilton fires warning at Toto Wolff about being stubborn

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer is all for signing Ricciardo back to Enstone; however, the Romanian-American wants the team to plan their signing on being around for the next “89-88 races”.

“I think what we need to focus on is, like I say, the plans that we have for the next 89-88 races,” said the Alpine boss.

“We’ve got to make sure that we complement that plan with the best driver that we can, and there are some options out there for us.”