McLaren boss calls on Ricciardo to push harder to be closer to Norris

Daniel Ricciardo has a best finish of P6 this season, while Lando Norris stood on the podium in Imola.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown sympathises with Daniel Ricciardo’s struggles at present, but insists that he wants to see him competing more frequently with Lando Norris.

Ricciardo has only scored points on two occasions this season, including the sixth-placed finish in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix sprint race in Imola.

The other points haul arrived at his home race in Australia, while a woeful car in Bahrain, a reliability failure in Saudi Arabia, and poor performances in Miami and Spain have seen him fail to manage more than 11 points this season.

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The Spanish Grand Prix was the first time in 10 races that the Australian has managed to out-qualify his 22-year-old team-mate, but he fell from P9 to P12 while Norris got up to eighth despite suffering from tonsillitis.

Brown observes that all the momentum is currently on Norris’ side of the garage, and would like to see Ricciardo close the gap to get both cars in the points on a more consistent basis.

“Lando definitely has an edge,” he told Sky Sports.

“We obviously would like to see Daniel much closer to Lando and have a good inter-team battle.”

The American has sympathy with the fact that the 32-year-old is struggling to get to grips with the MCL36 at present, but affirms that it is testament to Norris’ capabilities that he now has a 28-point gap back to his team-mate.

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“Daniel is just not comfortable yet with the car. We are trying everything we can, again it was a disappointing weekend,” added Brown.

“I think Lando is one of the best drivers in the world at the moment and I think it is also kind of a compliment to how good Lando is when you see the gap that exists.”

With Patricio O’Ward and Colton Herta both knocking on the door for a seat at McLaren in the near future, Ricciardo may find himself out of F1 in 2024 when his contract with McLaren expires.

At that time, Shane Howard, chief executive of the V8 supercar series in Australia would love to offer the eight-time race winner a chance to race something different back in his homeland.

“If the opportunity presented itself to have Daniel on the grid as a wildcard or otherwise, we would absolutely want it to happen,” he explained.

“He is one of the best drivers and most recognised athletes in the world, it would be fantastic to have him race a Supercar at some point.

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“We haven’t spoken to Daniel or his management and it would be in the hands of teams to align any opportunities that may present themselves in the future, but for sure it is something we would support.”

Ricciardo will be hoping for better fortunes this weekend when he travels to arguably his best track in Monaco, where he has scored four podiums and a race win with Red Bull.