McLaren CEO Zak Brown insists there is “no rush” when it comes to deciding Daniel Ricciardo’s future at the Woking-based outfit.
Zak Brown is pleased to see Daniel Ricciardo on top of his game, but the McLaren Racing head is already planning for the future.
The Australian driver is in his second season with the Woking-based team and has had a mixed start to the 2022 season. He battled for pace in the first two races of the season, but improved dramatically in the last two, finishing sixth in Australia and sixth in Imola.
Last year, Ricciardo had a poor first season with the team, in which he looked far from his best and was often overtaken by teammate Lando Norris, albeit he did win the Italian Grand Prix for McLaren for the first time since 2012.
Ricciardo has only one top-ten result in four races this season, trailing teammate Lando Norris by 24 points in the Drivers’ standings.
Last time out at Imola, he made a mistake and collided with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz on the first lap, putting him out of contention.
Brown, on the other hand, believes Ricciardo is performing better than last year, particularly on Sundays. He was asked on the F1 Nation podcast if Ricciardo felt more at ease with the team this year: “Yeah, I think for sure,” he said. “His race days have been very strong, much better in qualifying.”
“Listening to him earlier this week with the team, I think he still doesn’t feel he’s 10 out of 10 on top of the car, but he has got a great relationship with Lando, he knows the team well.”
“It was great he was able to go back to Australia for the first time in a couple of years and recharge the batteries and see the family, so we’re really happy to see Daniel on top of his game.”
Ricciardo’s contract with McLaren expires in 2023, and there’s a chance the driver and team will split ways if his performance doesn’t improve.
Brown, on the other hand, denied any such chatter, saying it was too early to talk about driver changes, but he did praise the young drivers who are part of McLaren’s young driver programme.
Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta from the McLaren’s IndyCar team have been linked with the F1 seat, and both have recently tested F1 cars. McLaren also has a long-term commitment with Ugo Ugochukwu, a 14-year-old young driver who presently races for Carlin in British Formula 4.
Brown intends to meet with Ricciardo later this year to talk about his future with the team.
“We have another year together,” said the American. “We do like to think long out, hence doing some testing with Pato.”
“We’re going to do some testing with Colton, we’ve got Ugo in Formula 4, who put it on pole at his first race.”
“So I don’t think you can ever plan too early, but there’s no rush.”