Let me kick this off by stating I love Daniel Ricciardo and Formula 1 is far more enjoyable with his infectious smile and paddock pranks.

The Aussie has produced some phenomenal moments throughout his career, none more notable than his 2018 Monaco win in the Red Bull.

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However, it was in the latter half of that season when it all began to go downhill for the West Australian.

Over the course of two seasons behind the wheel at Renault, Ricciardo went from a challenger in the title race to scrapping for leftovers from the frontrunners.

In 2020, his second and final season at Renault, Ricciardo finished fifth in the drivers’ standings. He only finished outside the top 10 on three occasions — one of which was a DNF.

The Honey Badger showed he had consistency in a car that was never going to compete with the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull.

Then came the shift to McLaren, where Ricciardo teamed up with Lando Norris in a superior car that was meant to thrust him higher up the drivers’ championship.

Since landing at McLaren, Ricciardo and Norris have been teammates for 35 races. Of those, Ricciardo has only bettered his teammate on 10 occasions.

Ten out of 35 is a pretty bleak looking stat and shows every Aussie F1 fan’s favourite driver just isn’t the man he used to be.

That’s not to say he should be punted out of the sport, but it’s time we put aside the love we have for Ricciardo and think about McLaren’s decision from a business perspective.

The way McLaren has conducted itself throughout this Oscar Piastri — where reports suggest Ricciardo will be axed a season early and replaced with the Aussie young gun — and the way it’s treated Ricciardo has been poor. Poor is being very generous, but you get the idea.

Ricciardo scored McLaren’s last Grand Prix victory when he crossed the line ahead of Norris in Italy last year. Since that moment, the Aussie hasn’t stepped foot on the podium.

The duo have a car capable of at least leading the chasing pack and nabbing high placed points finishes. Norris has been commendable throughout 2022, finishing outside the top nine on only three occasions – one of which was a DNF.

For Ricciardo, things are pretty ugly. In only four out of 13 races has the Aussie finished inside the top 10 and on only four occasions has he bettered Norris.

In qualifying the numbers are even more bleak for the Aussie, with Norris holding an 11-2 advantage. In total points it’s 76-19. Only Max Verstappen holds a larger intra-team advantage at Red Bull.

We all love Ricciardo and the last thing we want is for him to not be a part of Formula 1. But McLaren opting to go with Piastri is the correct move.

It might hurt to say and admit it, but deep down you know it to be true.

Piastri and Norris could become a duo to be reckoned with as McLaren looks to close the gap on Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari — although Ferrari is doing a stellar job of its own to be a middle of the pack team.

I would love to watch Ricciardo join a new team and fly back up into the contender battle, but those days look past the Aussie.

Nothing would make me happier than to be proven wrong. But if we’re going off recent history, it’s evident the eight-time Grand Prix winner won’t be back near the front of the grid.

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