McLaren Racing CEO, Zak Brown is pained by the fact that Daniel Ricciardo’s career with the British side has not worked out.
Ricciardo was considering his options in 2018 when Max Verstappen became the clear number one at Red Bull, and he was initially considering McLaren.
The Papaya squad finished sixth in the championship that year with their partnership of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, while Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz helped the French team to fourth.
Ricciardo had not seen enough from McLaren to convince him that they could climb to the top of the midfield, so he chose to go to Renault.
However, in 2019, it was the eight-time champions that rose to fourth, comfortably beating Renault, whose results did not deliver on what was promised by such a positive campaign the year before.
After just one season in Enstone, the 33-year-old decided to move to McLaren, and he signed off with two podiums in 2020.
Ricciardo’s partnership with Lando Norris was expected to be a dynamite one, but the Briton has dominated since their partnership, while the eight-time race winner has struggled to get going.
Victory at the Italian Grand Prix last season was a sign of what the Aussie can achieve if he has the right conditions around him, but those moments have been fleeting.
Both parties affirmed earlier in 2022 that they wanted to continue working together until the end of Ricciardo’s contract next season, but the situation became untenable due to a lack of suitability between car and driver.
On the 4 July, Oscar Piastri signed a contract with the Woking-based crew to replace the former Red Bull driver next season, but Ricciardo posted a statement on social media just over week later, confirming that he was staying with the team until the end of next year.
Ricciardo’s exit was announced during the summer break, before Piastri was announced as a McLaren driver after a legal tussle with Alpine.
The driver, Brown and team principal, Andreas Seidl, tried their best to make the long-anticipated partnership work, but in the end, McLaren and Ricciardo had to admit defeat.
“Ultimately we weren’t getting the results that we needed and we’re a year-and-a-half into this,” Brown said.
“We’ve all tried extremely hard, we love Daniel, he’s great to work with and continues to be great to work with.
“But we’re in the results business and the results weren’t coming and we felt we tried everything.
“We don’t really know why it didn’t click, it’s kind of nobody’s fault. We gave it our best, he gave it his best … we just kind of ran out of things to try.”
Having watched his driver struggle to get to grips with a temperamental car, Brown indicated that Ricciardo needs a “change of environment.”
The American, having tried so hard to get a drive he admired into the team, is devastated that things did not work out, and he has tried to continue their relationship by offering him seats in other series.
“I’ve hated it,” admitted Brown.
“I tried to get Daniel before he went to Renault, so this was years in the making. I’m a huge Daniel fan, I’m still a huge Daniel fan and that’ll never change.
“I asked him if he wanted to drive for us in the IndyCar or Formula E… I’d love to keep Daniel in the family but he’s still very focused on Formula One, which I get, it’s the pinnacle of motorsports. I’d love to race with him again.
“It’s probably the toughest thing I’ve had in my time in motorsports, it wasn’t pleasant, not fun.
“But my job, along with Andreas, is to make the tough decisions and because we didn’t really see progress happening.
“It was like, ‘Well I think we just need to make a change for both of our sakes and hopefully get him in the situation where he can be competitive again and in a Formula One car wherever he ends up racing’, but a huge disappointment.”
Ricciardo does not currently have a drive for next year, and he is not thought to be on the radar of Williams or Haas, who are now the only teams with a seat available for next year.