In Formula One contracts are signed but mean nothing. Clause or no clause, such is the wealth and competitive stealth inside and outside the sport that if need be both parties go to court to settle disputes because there is no cost cap for hiring lawyers. Not so for Daniel Ricciardo who has had his 3-year contract torn up a year early by McLaren. Riccardo’s prestige as one of the best drivers on the grid has taken a dive during his tenure with Woking based squad.
Riccardo’s biggest struggle has been trying to match the speed of his teammate Lando Norris. Norris has taken his difficult-to-master McLaren and wrung every mph out of it. Riccardo has struggled to get to grips with his McLaren from the start. Winning the 2021 Italian Grand Prix gave him a short-term boost, but in the end, it was not enough to save his seat.
Riccardo will leave McLaren at the end of the 2021 season by mutual consent. The only reason why Riccardo retains his drive until the last race is because Mclaren couldn’t get Piastri into the seat. Oscar Piastri, if you recall, is the next big talent and was a reserve driver for Alpine F1 until he gave them the middle finger in a bid to join McLaren.
It seems the Oscar Pisatri saga is heading to court where McLaren and Alpine will try to settle the matter once and for all. Either way, Pisatri, who hasn’t raced in Formula One has a lot to live up to when he eventually joins McLaren. In the meantime McLaren released a statement confirming they broke the terms of their contract with Ricciardo:
“McLaren Racing and Daniel Ricciardo have mutually agreed that Daniel will leave the team at the end of the 2022 season.
“The team thanks Daniel for his dedication and contribution, including that memorable win in Monza. We look forward to finishing the season strongly together.”
This will hurt Riccardo personally, even the severance pay which should be considerable, will not make up for the disappointment. Riccardo is a competitive animal but he just looked out of touch with his McLaren compared to Norris. Riccardo could retire but he does have options open to him should he opt to stay in Formula One.
Ricciardo could decide to take the vacant seat at Alpine F1. Hass or Williams could be alternative options for 2023.