McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has reassured that Daniel Ricciardo’s future going into the 2023 season is secure after his honest public comments recently.
The Australian has been out-qualified 24 times in 33 races by team-mate Lando Norris since he joined at the beginning of last season, and his P9 at the Austrian Grand Prix was only his 16th top 10 finish in Papaya.
Earlier this season, Brown acknowledged that the 33-year-old’s performances were not meeting his or the team’s expectations, which Ricciardo accepted was “not false.”
Since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with the exception of Silverstone, things have started to slowly pick up again for the former Red Bull driver, just as well since there is a lot of speculation around his future at present.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, Alpine reserve Oscar Piastri, Williams’ Alex Abon and IndyCar driver Colton Herta have all been linked with the drive – some more tenuously than others – and Formula 2 driver Jehan Daruvala also completed a test with the British side a few weeks back.
However, with several drivers potentially knocking on the door, Ricciardo has a contract with the Woking-based squad until the end of next year, and all parties involved intend to honour it.
“What I said about Daniel’s performances did not cause any problems in the team, although it did bring a lot of rumours from the outside,” said Brown.
“But we have a great relationship with Dan and we are constantly texting one another, he will be with us next year and we will do our best to get him back in shape.”
Ricciardo has won eight races in his career, the last of which arriving at the Italian Grand Prix in his debut McLaren campaign and, although the pace of the 2022 car does not quite seem up to that level, Brown believes the Australian can achieve that goal.
“We know that he is capable of bringing us race wins,” he explained.
However, the main objective is to start matching Norris, who stood on the podium in Imola in round four, on a more consistent basis.
“Everything will depend on the car that we give him, but our requirements are extremely clear – to be at the level of Lando Norris,” stated Brown.
Ricciardo rose to 12th in the Drivers’ Standings as a result of his ninth-placed finish in Spielberg last time out.