Daniel Ricciardo earned himself a brutal mid-season performance review after just a so-so start to life with McLaren this F1 season.
With teammate Lando Norris blazing a trail ahead of him to sit third in the championship standings, Ricciardo has failed to match the young Brit’s high watermark.
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After managing to win two podiums for Renault last season, Ricciardo’s failure to repeat the feat in the much more competitive McLaren has raised eyebrows.
While many understood it would likely take some time for Ricciardo to fully come to grips with a new car and new team, he has struggled much more than many predicted.
Ricciardo is ninth in the drivers’ standings, equal on 50 points behind Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly, who finished third in the Azerbaijan GP.
With F1 in its summer break and time running out for Ricciardo to start putting points on the board, motorsport pundit Tom Coronel felt the performances thus far were a sign the Australian driver’s competitiveness was waning in labelling him one of the disappointments of the season.
“The difference with Norris is really too big. The best part was that after Monaco, he admitted it himself: ‘Norris does things with that car that I cannot do’. If you say that, it’s really already done,” he wrote for Formule1.nl.
“I don’t see him straightening it out at McLaren either. He can’t eat those last two tenths out of the dashboard, like Lewis (Hamilton) and Max (Verstappen) do.”
Perhaps most damning though, was the criticism that Ricciardo had left Red Bull back in 2018 simply for the money.
“He went for the money. And as soon as you make that decision, you know it’s not going to work out and you can’t do it. A nice marketing guy, but not a killer,” Coronel wrote.
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In an interview with Autosport in July, Ricciardo was under no illusions as to his performances with McLaren.
Grading his efforts to mid-season as a 5/10, Ricciardo was nonetheless confident he could improve rapidly.
From an on-track point of view, like a results point of view, I wouldn’t give myself too much of a flattering grade,” he said.
“The results aren’t through a lack of trying. And I certainly feel like I’ve put in the work. I think it will eventually come to fruition, and it will show.
“But so far, the on-track stuff, I don’t know … call it a five out of 10. I’m certainly wanting to improve that.
“Although my score says ‘call it a five’ – and it’s what it is now – I am uber-confident that increases as the year goes on.”
A golden opportunity beckoned for the briefest of moments on the first lap of the Hungarian Grand Prix earlier this month.
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas got it all wrong in the wet heading to turn one, clattering into Norris before taking out both Red Bull cars as well.
For a moment it looked like Ricciardo would be the biggest beneficiary as the road opened up in front of him, but he and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc were both spun around by the out of control Lance Stroll in the Aston Martin.
It was a cruel, race-ruining blow for Ricciardo, who will get another opportunity at the Belgian GP on August 29.
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