McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown admits he is surprised that the partnership with Daniel Ricciardo didn’t work, after terminating his contract a year early.
Ricciardo was signed as Carlos Sainz’s replacement ahead of the 2021 season and won last year’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza (pictured above celebrating with Brown on the podium), but has struggled in the main part to match Lando Norris and has only scored points in four races this season. With the 33-year-old’s departure at the end of this season confirmed on Wednesday, Brown says the quality of driver that Ricciardo is makes it tough to explain why the relationship didn’t work.
“I think it is fair to say that we are all surprised that it didn’t deliver more results, and more Monza-like performances,” Brown said. “Clearly he has got a fantastic CV. He came into us as a seven-time grand prix winner, and leaves us as an eight-time grand prix winner with nine races to go, so who knows what happens later this year. Hopefully he will find his form in a new environment.”
RACER understands that McLaren has paid Ricciardo a significant sum to cover the remainder of the original contract, and Brown adds that it was never a consideration to say he couldn’t race for a rival in F1 during that time.
“I won’t get into any contractual details, other than to say we came to a very amicable and agreeable solution. What I would say is that we are very hopeful that Daniel will be on the grid next year. We don’t have any knowledge of what his plans may or may not be, other than his desire to be on the Formula 1 grid, but we’re certainly very hopeful from a sporting standpoint that he’s on the grid next year.
“It was never a discussion between Andreas [Seidl] and I — nor Daniel — to consider not allowing him to race in any other form of motorsport next year, and we hope he does. He’s a friend of the family and always will be, and we believe at McLaren that restricting a racing driver from racing cars is certainly something that McLaren would never do.”
If Ricciardo doesn’t stay in F1 and shows an interest in racing in IndyCar, Formula E or Extreme E, Brown says he’d be open to talking to him about a switch of series.
“We are Daniel Ricciardo fans, and we do have other racing activities and if that was something that was of interest to Daniel, we would welcome those conversations. We will let him speak for himself, but I believe he is very focused on Formula 1 at the moment.”