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Why Daniel Ricciardo's Move To McLaren Would Be A Disaster

Tanya Kumar
ANALYST
Feature
3.14K   //    21 Jun 2018, 16:40 IST

Canadian F1 Grand Prix
Canadian F1 Grand Prix

Daniel Ricciardo has been offered a $20 million-per-year deal from McLaren to bid adieu to Red Bull Racing and join the British constructors. While the Australian has not yet signed on the dotted line, the pay rise could make him one of the highest paid Formula One drivers.

The deal might be lucrative in monetary terms, but the 28-year-old has previously gone on record to state that he would prefer his 2019 contract to be based on a championship winning car rather than any other factor, even the financial aspect.

This would be the first time that the Australian is on the market. He started off his career as a Red Bull junior and claimed seven victories with the Milton Keynes based outfit. Daniel has continually brought strong results for the team and is looked at as an asset by all teams.

Red Bull and Honda recently announced a deal between them for the 2019-2020 seasons and that could have a strong impact on where Daniel lands up next year. Despite constant reliability issues, Renault paired with Red Bull have proved to be the third best engine suppliers and constructors on the grid.

Whereas, with McLaren, Honda have been on a downward spiral that might or might not be brought to a halt after being coupled with the Red Bull chassis and engineers. Honda have shown signs of improvement with Toro Rosso, but that still might not be enough to satisfy the Australian.

Renault, meanwhile, have had reliability issues of their own and now that they only have their works team and McLaren to cater to, it might not be the easiest decision for Daniel to make the switch over to the British constructors. The Monaco Grand Prix winner would require a car that can continually compete at the top and currently McLaren do not have one to show.

McLaren are currently sitting 5th in the constructor’s championship after a third of the season has been completed, but the deal might act as a step down for the Red Bull driver. To add to that, Fernando Alonso is not known to be the easiest teammate, and according to Daniel himself, he would not be joining a team to become someone’s bridesmaid, given that the comment applies to all and not just Sebastian Vettel. That is to say that the Spaniard sticks around in Formula One after tasting victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and not go chasing a triple crown.


Dani
Daniel Ricciardo wins the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, 2017

According to Red Bull Racing’s advisor, Helmut Marko, Ricciardo is waiting for Lewis Hamilton’s decision which seems to be an inclination to join Mercedes. Marko explained, “Ricciardo doesn’t want to sign until Hamilton has signed. It’s a bit strange. Hopefully, it ends soon.”

If Mercedes were to sign on a deal with Daniel, they would either have to get rid of Valtteri Bottas or Lewis Hamilton would have to retire. However, Mercedes seem comfortable with the line-up they currently have, but as is common with Formula One, things can change at a moment’s notice.

Marko believes that the Australian is currently in demand and despite McLaren offering him increasingly more money, it hasn’t yet been enough to deter Daniel. “Our Daniel Ricciardo is the king of the market,” Marko said. “McLaren offers him more every week.”

While McLaren remains in the mix to fight for a contract with the Red Bull driver, time seems to be running out quickly for the Australian. If Daniel were to switch to either Ferrari or Mercedes, now would be the ideal time to do so. Ferrari and Mercedes have junior drivers that would be likely to come up the ranks after a few more years as and when the teams require and if the 28-year-old is committed to another team at that time, both the constructors would probably prefer the juniors to him.

Daniel is currently fourth in the 2018 driver’s standings and would be a good catch for any team that he goes to. He has shown confidence, concentration and a good knack for clean overtaking over the years. To top it off, the ‘Honey Badger’ would be a dream for any constructor’s public relation’s team. It is likely that the Australian would soon be making a decision about his future, and he would keep in mind that his teammate, Max Verstappen, and Sebastian Vettel have already committed to Red Bull Racing and Ferrari, respectively, till 2020.

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Tanya Kumar
ANALYST
Avid follower of most sports. F1, Cricket and a pen are among a few things that make me happy; especially when I get an opportunity to blend them together. Latest life philosophy- "Sometimes you just have to lick the stamp and send it.", courtesy favourite driver, Daniel Ricciardo.
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