Why Didn’t McLaren and Daniel Ricciardo Click?

Daniel Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo

Few things in Formula 1 may never be solved and hence, stand a very good chance at remaining a mystery. So what is this stuff we are talking about?

Well, for starters picture the fact that how did a driver of the class and pedigree of Jenson Button not even clinch 20 Grand Prix wins? How did drivers like Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso not finish with three world titles in the very least; surely, the Spaniard has two to his name but how did Kimi, the sport’s fastest natural talent as they say, get stuck with just one to his name?

Likewise, there’s a McLaren-related mystery that may stay unsolved.

The moment you put a certain Daniel Ricciardo’s name to it, you tend to understand which way the narrative is bending- don’t you?

Any guesses yet?

Nevermind. It’s not so hard. Here’s a key question. It’s one that may stay that way perhaps for time immemorial. It’s that how did Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren not click together?

What went wrong for Daniel Ricciardo?

“We don’t know,” was the immediate response of Zak Brown on Daniel Ricciardo’s lack of performance with McLaren in what turned out to be the Aussie’s final season in Formula 1, as of now, and surely, the very last that he drove with the great English side.

But surely, Brown didn’t stop there; he did try to explain some possible directions that may have carried some answers and probably still do:

We’ve certainly analysed it. We gave it everything we’ve got, Daniel gave it everything he’s got and our relationship with Daniel was great. It was clearly disappointing for both of us as to the outcome but I think it’s a bit of a great mystery as to why [it happened]. I don’t think Daniel knows, we don’t know, we tried everything. Maybe we worked too hard,” added Mr. Brown.

But then racing, as it always turns out, is a combination of several combinations or set-ups as one calls it. So did McLaren give it everything for Daniel Ricciardo’s cause and were there some alternation made as well when things didn’t quite turn up as well as one would’ve liked?

Here’s how Zak Brown responded, “I think ultimately that’s why we both decided to make a change because we had tried everything and we really didn’t know why it wasn’t clicking. So hopefully a change of environment for him [will mean] he’ll get his magic back because for sure he’s a magical guy. You saw in Monza what he’s capable of, and he’s done that seven other times. But we needed to make a change because we couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong.”

That being said while surely Daniel Ricciardo will rue the lost opportunity at McLaren amplified by the fact that even in his last season, he finished well outside the top ten, it’s not that he didn’t try.

Did Daniel Ricciardo not try while at McLaren?

Lest it is forgotten, the only Formula 1 Grand Prix victory that Daniel Ricciardo managed since his famous Monaco triumph with Red Bull in 2018 came with McLaren. For times to come one shall not forget the stellar effort of the Honeybadger at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix (at Monza). To this day, rather interestingly, it remains the only win clinched by a McLaren driver in the turbo-hybrid era of Formula 1.

And see the wild side- that very driver who fetched McLaren some glory is nowhere to be found come 2023! But that’s life and that’s the way the cookie crumbles in Formula 1.

Daniel Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, with an engineer
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