Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren have agreed to part ways at the end of the current Formula 1 season, bringing a premature end to his tenure at the Woking-based squad.
In the wake of the Australian’s ongoing difficulties to get on terms with teammate Lando Norris during their two years alongside each other, McLaren began a process several weeks ago to agree a separation.
With McLaren hoping to sign Oscar Piastri for 2023, who is currently in a contract dispute with the Alpine squad where he is a reserve driver, it began discussions with Ricciardo about a termination of his current deal so it could open a slot for the youngster.
Those talks have now reached a conclusion with McLaren and Ricciardo agreeing that this will be his final season with the team. The news was announced first by the Australian driver on Wednesday, ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.
Ricciardo initially joined McLaren in 2021 on a three-year contract, with the former Red Bull and Renault driver having a final say in whether or not to see through the final year. Until recently he said he was fully committed to seeing things out, despite some competitive frustrations.
But amid the reality of McLaren’s desire to make a change, and things not improving as much as hoped at the team, in the end both parties agreed that continuing did not make sense. It is understood Ricciardo will be paid fully for his 2023 contract but is also free to race elsewhere.
Although Ricciardo won last year’s Italian Grand Prix from Norris, his time at McLaren has been one of deep frustration as he has found it difficult to get on top of the characteristics of the car.
While there have been signs of progress at times, the recent failure of Ricciardo to build on momentum he appeared to have gained after the Monaco Grand Prix led to alarm bells ringing once again about him potentially never making the breakthrough needed to match Norris.
McLaren’s decision to act has also been triggered by Ricciardo’s failure to contribute as many points as hoped to help its constructors’ championship fight against Alpine.
While Norris has scored 76 points so far this year, which included a podium at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Ricciardo has brought home just 19. His best finish was sixth at him home race in Melbourne.
McLaren is currently four points behind Alpine in the battle for fourth place in the constructions’ championship, with each position in the standings worth several million pounds in bonus prize money.
Ricciardo will see out the 2022 campaign with McLaren and is now free to pursue options elsewhere – one of which could be a return to the Alpine squad which could be without a second driver if Piastri is confirmed at McLaren.
The agreement between Ricciardo and McLaren to part ways comes despite the team having no certainty yet on whether or not it will get hold of Piastri.
While the team and driver believe they have a firm contract in place for next year, the Alpine squad equally believes it has a deal in place for the Australian youngster to race for it.
The matter remains subject to a ruling from F1’s Contracts Recognition Board, and it is possible that a decision may not be made for several weeks.