McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl has reiterated his support for Daniel Ricciardo amid a difficult start to the year for the Australian.
Ricciardo has managed two points finishes this season after ended both the Australian Grand Prix and the Imola sprint race in P6.
Before the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend, he had been out-qualified by team-mate Lando Norris in every race thus far in 2022, but a track limits violation meant that the Briton was eliminated in Q2, while Ricciardo will start Sunday’s race in ninth.
The 32-year-old has won eight races in his career, with seven coming during his time at Red Bull between 2014 and 2018, and he grabbed a famous victory for McLaren at last year’s Italian Grand Prix – their first since Brazil 2012 with Jenson Button.
But that was one of only 13 points finishes for Ricciardo in 2021, and he ended the Drivers’ Championship eighth, two positions and 45 points adrift of his team-mate as the Woking side missed out on third in the Constructors’ Standings to McLaren.
Nonetheless, he has proven his tremendous ability behind the wheel of a race car during the 12 seasons he has now appeared in, so Seidl has full belief in the Australian.
“We have a contract in place with Daniel until the end of next year plus options which means we are both in a very good place… We want to make this journey we are on together a very successful one,” he said, quoted by theage.com.
“Daniel has shown in the past that with the right car and the right team he can pull off race wins, so there is no reason why he should not be able to fight for world titles if we deliver from our side.
“The most important thing a driver must have is speed. That’s something we can’t fix as a team if it’s not there.
“Daniel has shown in the past if he has the right material, the right car, the right team around him he can fight with the best in his sport and win races.
“He’s very experienced, he has seen different teams and different organisations and he has a clear idea of what it means to fight for race wins and that’s an experience we wanted to have in the team when we got Daniel on board.”
The German praises his driver’s fortitude in the difficult times he has endured with the team, observing that he does a great job of keeping everyone upbeat.
“Despite the huge experience he has he is not shying away from still putting the effort in to get better,” explained Seidl.
“As a team boss as important as doing a great job inside the car it is [equally] as important being a great leader within the team outside the car.
“The drivers are the heroes of the sport, it is especially important when things go wrong on a weekend that these guys stay positive and motivate the team and Daniel is great at that, not just at the track but especially in the factory.”
Seidl recognises that it is not easy to jump from one car to another – Ricciardo’s move to McLaren was his second switch in three years – but he is satisfied with the improvements the former eight-time race winner made throughout 2021.
“Daniel is the one who was disappointed the most with the challenging start he had with us,” he added.
“But we have to accept that changing a team from one year to the next in this complex environment with these complex cars, with the limited testing time we also had last year it was always a challenging mission which Daniel was up for.
“But the most important thing was Daniel never gave up.
“He never lost the trust of the team, we never lost the trust in him and he continued to improve throughout the season.
“He had a strong second half including a great result in the first win for many, many years in Monza.”
With his 216th start this weekend, Ricciardo will surpass nine-time race winner Mark Webber for the most starts by an Australian in Formula 1.
The pair shared the grid from midway through 2011 until the end of 2013 when the now 45-year-old left to race with Porsche in the World Endurance Championship.
Seidl aims to make the landmark 216th start a good one for his driver.
“I hope we can give him this weekend a competitive car so he can celebrate this milestone with a good result,” he stated.
Ricciardo is currently 11th in the Drivers’ Championship on 11 points, with his McLaren team sitting fourth in the Constructors’ Standings.