The death knell is already sounding on Daniel Ricciardo’s career at McLaren after his horror season continued in Monaco on the weekend.
Former F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve has brought the curtain down on Daniel Ricciardo’s career at McLaren, believing his time in papaya is over after another disappointing grand prix.
Ricciardo finished 13th in Monaco on Monday, after a rough weekend that saw him crash in practice and qualify 14th on the grid. Once again, he was comprehensively out-performed by younger teammate Lando Norris, who finished sixth despite still suffering from the effects of tonsillitis that rocked him at the previous Spanish GP.
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The latest ordinary result has done little to quell speculation about Ricciardo’s future at McLaren as rumours continue to swirl he could be cut before his contract expires at the end of 2023.
Pressure is mounting on the 32-year-old to perform, with McLaren boss Zak Brown last week urging him to lift his game and hinting at a get-out clause in his contract should his poor results continue.
Villeneuve, who won the world title in 1997, said Monaco was the final straw and McLaren will look to move on after an underwhelming season-and-a-bit with the Aussie driver.
“Daniel Ricciardo’s time at McLaren is over,” Villeneuve wrote in his exclusive column for Formule1.nl.
“CEO Zak Brown is now saying that there are clauses in his contract, and that means that a decision has almost been made. It’s a way to put the pressure on the driver and prepare the media.
“Ultimately, he has been a highly-paid driver who has cost the team a lot of money. He doesn’t bring in any points and he doesn’t have the speed the team needs to develop the car. So he’s just costing them money.
“It would be cheaper for them to continue paying Ricciardo’s salary, let him sit on the couch at home and put another driver in the car. It’s a harsh reality, but that’s Formula 1.”
Villeneuve’s comments come after Ralf Schumacher, the brother of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, said he wouldn’t be surprised if McLaren gives Ricciardo the flick with a year left on his contract.
“At McLaren, there are … rumours,” the pundit told Sky Germany on the weekend.
“The rumours, as well as the statements in the team, are getting louder. He’s just too far away from his teammate (Lando Norris).
“I’m curious how the future looks for him. It will be quite difficult for him.”
After the race in Monaco, Ricciardo posted a defiant message on Instagram, saying: “Appreciate the fans, the messages and all the love. Not the Monaco I hoped but honey badger don’t quit.”
The West Australian signed a three-year deal with McLaren after arriving from Renault at the end of the 2020 season, but he may not see out the final year of his contract if results keep going the way they are.
Ricciardo struggled to adjust to his new car last year and finished eighth in the drivers’ standings, two spots bellow Norris. There have been precious few signs of improvement in 2022, apart from a sixth-placed finish at his home grand prix in Melbourne.
His next best result after that was 12th at the Spanish Grand Prix — where he dropped from ninth on the grid — leaving Ricciardo languishing at 11th in the championship while Norris is seventh.