Ricciardo’s future at McLaren takes a double knock

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Daniel Ricciardo’s future at McLaren took a double knock on Friday, crashing during Monaco FP2 as the team announced they had extended their agreement with Pato O’Ward who is eyeing a seat in the top flight

Ricciardo has not delivered the results hoped for in Formula 1, McLaren boss Zack Brown told media on Friday at Indianapolis.

Across the Atlantic, Ricciardo started his 2022 Monaco Grand Prix weekend reasonably well, ending FP1 seventh on the timesheets, albeit slower than teammate Lando Norris recovering from a bout of tonsilitis.

But in the second session, trying too hard, he lost the car and crunched the unforgiving barriers, which again did his shares no good at all; the Australian reported afterwards: “FP2 was obviously a very short session with a crash on the first lap. We had a decent running earlier in the day, I feel it was a solid FP1.

“We obviously just tried to push the car more and try a few things with set-up. I think we ultimately just pushed it a bit too far and I lost the car in the high-speed Swimming Pool.

“I did my best to catch it but obviously, this track is so unforgiving that you can’t get away with anything. It is what it is: obviously, it’s a long night ahead for the mechanics which puts a bit of a downer on the day – but I’m still not going to let it affect us into tomorrow.

“We know where we went wrong and we’ll fix it for tomorrow. Lando’s pace looked decent, so we’ll hopefully put ourselves back up there, in a good position,” added Ricciardo.

Stateside, Brown took care of a bit of business ahead of Sunday’s Indy 500 by extending O’Ward’s contract through the end of 2025 in a deal that will include some F1 testing for the 23-year-old Mexican and a new McLaren sportscar as a signing on bonus.

McLaren’s commitment to Pato will come as a warning to under-performing Daniel

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The 32-year-old Perth native has managed one points finish in six F1 races this season. He is under contract through 2023 but Brown said there are “mechanisms” in place that could impact negotiations.

“We’ve got both our drivers under contract so nothing imminent but we’re starting a testing program bringing a couple of drivers in and Pato is definitely going to be one of those,” said Brown, who is in Indianapolis where Arrow McLaren will have three cars in Sunday’s race.

“I don’t want to get into the contract but there are mechanisms which we’re committed to each other and then there are mechanisms which we’re not.

“I spoke to Daniel about it. We’re not getting the results we hoped for but we’re both going to continue to push.

“I think he showed at Monza he can win races. We also need to continue to develop our race car. It is not capable of winning races but we’d like to see him further up the grid.”

O’Ward has also shown a winner’s touch by collecting three victories, four poles and nine podiums since signing on with Arrow McLaren in 2020.

The Mexican young gun, who will start Sunday’s race from seventh on the grid, has set himself a deadline of two years to realise his F1 dream which matches up nicely with his McLaren deal.

“I think the deadline is there just because of age. Once you are 25, 26 that window closes quite a bit,” said O’Ward, who will take home Brown’s Richard Mille watch as a bonus if he wins the 500.

“Obviously, if the opportunity comes about you have to take it. The dream of becoming a racing driver came about from F1 so that is nothing that is ever going to leave. It is part of me.

“When you want something so much it is hard to block it out of your mind. At the end of the day what is going to make this guy (Brown) want me more is win more.” (Reporting by Steve Keating; Additional reporting by Agnes Carlier)