F1 2022 | Drive to survive

The full extent of Daniel Ricciardo’s 2021 struggles with McLaren was revealed in an episode of the Netflix series Drive to Survive.

The Australian has moved from Renault to McLaren for 2021, partnering youngster Lando Norris, with Ricciardo set to lead the team.

Instead, he struggled to adapt his driving style to the McLaren, being largely overtaken by Norris, who eventually finished sixth in the championship, well past Ricciardo in eighth.

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Ricciardo managed just one podium finish all season, although on that occasion he trailed a McLaren 1-2 at home at Monza, breaking the team’s nine-year winning drought.

The situation bottomed out at the Monaco Grand Prix in May, where Norris passed the Australian on his way to third, while Ricciardo trailed home in 12th.

“I’ve never had this situation where you see one car finishing third and the other not being competitive,” said McLaren boss Zak Brown.

“Daniel struggled which surprised us because Monaco is his home race, he has already won it.

“Of course it’s frustrating, it threw us a curve ball.”

The second episode of Drive to Survive, titled Ace in the Hole, covers the relationship between Ricciardo, Norris and the team during the first five races of the season.

“By the end of this season, I predict a series of podiums,” said an optimistic Ricciardo before the first race.

McLaren entered the 2021 season having finished third in 2020, keen to maintain that momentum and battle a resurgent Ferrari team in the constructors’ championship.

“It’s pretty important to us that we finish third this year,” Brown said in preseason.

“The difference between third and fourth can ultimately mean tens of millions of dollars.”

While Norris finished between Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, with all three covered by just 5.5 points, Ricciardo trailed Sainz by almost 50 points, condemning McLaren to a costly fall to fourth place.

Norris’ determination to eclipse his more experienced teammate is evident from the start. When Ricciardo overqualified him in the season-opening race in Bahrain by just 0.047 seconds, the British driver took it the wrong way.

“How is he?” asks Norris manager Mark Berryman.

The response, from McLaren communications manager Charlotte Sefton, sums up Norris’ feelings.

“He said, and I quote, ‘1-zero already, f—, s—, f—‘,” she replied.

Norris would get the better of Ricciardo on race day, as he did in nine of the first 10 races of the season.

Ricciardo’s desperation is summed up in one fell swoop, where he comes out of the pits after yet another disappointing outing.

“What’s the fine if I don’t media?” he asks a member of the McLaren team.

When told that the way he handles disappointment reveals the type of person he is, Ricciardo’s response gives insight into his state of mind.

“What if I’m just a c—?” he said.

Following the Monaco disaster, a race he had previously won, Ricciardo was only able to offer the team an apology over the radio.

“Sorry, obviously painful for everyone,” he said.

“A little weekend to forget.

“Just a s— run, but what are you doing?”

Last month, Norris signed a new long-term deal with McLaren that will see him through to the end of the 2025 season, worth $94 million.

Ricciardo still has two years left on his contract, although it’s unclear whether that includes an option on either side for 2023.

Either way, the Aussie can’t afford another year like 2021.

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