Sebastian Vettel blames McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo’s early departure

Sebastian Vettel says the team failed to extract their driver's potential.

Sebastian Vettel feels McLaren are to blame for Daniel Ricciardo’s struggles with the team, saying they’ve failed to get the best out of him.

There was a huge amount of excitement when Ricciardo joined McLaren at the start of the 2021 campaign, but he’s failed to live up to expectations. 

For the vast majority of his time with the British team, he has been very much second best to team-mate Lando Norris, rarely able to challenge him.

He’s struggled so much in fact that McLaren have opted to terminate his contract with the team a year early, with Oscar Piastri expected to replace him. 

Daniel Ricciardo hails Oscar Piastri.v1

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There’s little doubt that he hasn’t come close to reaching the high level he was driving at prior to joining, but former team-mate Vettel doesn’t think that’s the Aussie’s fault.

He knows better than most how good Ricciardo can be, comprehensively losing the intra-team battle to him at Red Bull in 2014, and says that McLaren must’ve failed to get the best out of him.

“I think it’s a very, very difficult situation to be in,” Vettel told reporters in Belgium.

“I had the pleasure to race against him and the not-so-pleasurable side of getting beaten by him years ago.

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“I don’t know the details, but I guess McLaren failed to extract the potential that he has.

“I’m sure that ultimately the talent he has and the qualities he has will shine through.”

Vettel wasn’t the only former Red Bull team-mate to defend Ricciardo, with Max Verstappen also sympathising with the 33-year-old.

The Dutchman understands that sometimes a car simply doesn’t suit a driver, and feels in that situation, leaving his current team is perhaps best for the Honey Badger.

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“Sometimes a car cannot suit your driving style,” the reigning World Champion told Sky F1.

“It’s a very tough place to be in. You have a contract, you try to turn it around, and, if it doesn’t work out, I think sometimes it is better to maybe pursue a different direction – whatever that is. 

“If that’s within F1, I don’t know what he wants.

“But sometimes it’s better to just step out of it and try something else, but I don’t know. He’s a great guy. I think he’s shown already over time that he’s an amazing driver. He’s won these races and I hope he stays in F1, but we have to wait and see where that will be.”