Zak Brown was candid in his evaluation of Daniel Ricciardo’s form after the Spanish Grand Prix, admitting it has not met neither McLaren nor his own expectations.
Ricciardo was in for another disappointing race in Barcelona last Sunday, as although he qualified ninth ahead of his ill teammate Lando Norris, the Honey Badger had an underwhelming race to 12th at the chequered flag. Norris finished eighth.
Speaking of the driver situation at McLaren, CEO Zak Brown told Sky Sports: “Lando definitely has an edge.
“We would obviously like to see Daniel much closer to Lando and have a good inter-team battle,” he added. “Daniel is just not comfortable yet with the car, we’re trying everything we can.
“Again it was a disappointing weekend,” the American lamented.
Aside from his win in Monza in 2021, Ricciardo has struggled to match Norris on pace, let alone beat him, and 2022 should be have a fresh start for him with the new car, the MCL36, as he blamed his struggles last year to McLaren’s MCL35M, which required a peculiar way of driving, something Ricciardo couldn’t adjust to.
Brown said of his under-pressure driver’s performance: “Short of Monza [Ricciardo’s win at last year’s Italian GP] and a few races, it’s generally not kind of met his or our expectations, as far as what we were expecting.
“And I think all you can do is keep working hard as a team, keep communications going, keep pushing and hope that whatever is not kind of clicking at the moment clicks shortly.”
Ricciardo’s struggles show how good Norris is
Brown is a great fan of Norris, and said Ricciardo’s struggles are proof of the young Briton’s greatness.
“I think it also kind of points to how good Lando is,” he said. “When you look at the gap between Charles and Carlos [at Ferrari], the gap between Max and Sergio [at Red Bull], there are gaps between teammates and I think Lando is one of the best drivers in the world at the moment.
“I think it’s also kind of a compliment to how good Lando is when you see the gap that exists,” Brown insisted.
Ricciardo’s contract will expire at the end of the 2023 season, and Brown has not hidden his will to have an American driver in one of the McLaren seats, with Pato O’ward, who drives for the Arrow McLaren SP IndyCar team, Colton Herta, also an IndyCar driver for Andretti Autosport both linked with Ricciardo’s seat.
A future in Supercars
But should the 32-year-old driver from Perth lose his Formula 1 drive, he has an option to join the Australian V8 Supercar series.
Supercars chief executive Shane Howard said he would welcome Ricciardo into the series if his F1 career comes to an end.
“If the opportunity presented itself to have Daniel on the grid as a wildcard or otherwise, we would absolutely want it to happen,” Howard told the Herald Sun.
“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.
“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,” the chief executive revealed.