McLaren CEO Zak Brown says talks about Daniel Ricciardo’s contract will take place later this year, but there is “no rush” to make a call.
McLaren CEO Zak Brown has spoken about Daniel Ricciardo’s contract situation as rumours swirl over the Aussie’s future.
Speaking on the F1 Nation Podcast Brown said there was “no rush” to decide what comes next for Ricciardo, whose contract expires at the end of 2023, but confirmed internal talks would begin later this year.
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Speculation has been ramping up that Ricciardo may find himself usurped at McLaren, with the spotlight focusing on American IndyCar prodigy Colton Herta as a potential replacement. The 22-year-old is a development driver at McLaren and as part of his deal, Herta is set to test the McLaren MCL35M this year.
“We do like to think long out, hence (we are) doing some testing … with Colton,” Brown said.
“So I don’t think you can ever plan too early, but there’s no rush.”
The comments about Herta’s future with the team come after Brown confirmed to RACER last month there was a plan in place for the young gun to be brought through the ranks and blooded at some point.
“That’s up to (team principal) Andreas Seidl to communicate that outwardly when he’s ready to communicate it,” he said.
“But yes, we have a plan.”
While Ricciardo’s relationship with teammate Lando Norris might be positive off the track, the gulf between the two drivers on it has raised eyebrows, with Norris sitting sixth in the drivers’ standings on 35 points. He has also extended his contract with the team until 2025.
By contrast, Ricciardo sits in 11th on 11 points from four races, with his best finish of sixth coming at the Australian Grand Prix last month.
Ricciardo struggled massively adjusting to a new car last yearbut Brown believes he’s shown signs of improvement in this campaign.
“His race days have been very strong, much better (than) in qualifying,” Brown said.
“Listening to him earlier this week with the team, I think he still doesn’t feel he’s 10 out of 10 on top of the car, but he has got a great relationship with (teammate) Lando (Norris), he knows the team well.
“It was great he was able to go back to Australia for the first time in a couple of years and recharge the batteries and see the family, so we’re really happy to see Daniel on top of his game.”
Despite the words of Brown, Ricciardo’s 2022 season has been largely one to forget, with the Honey Badger crossing the line 14th in Bahrain and failing to finish in Saudi Arabia.
Things worse got for him last start when he collided with Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz in the opening lap of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Italy.
Ricciardo was the last of the drivers to finish the race and later personally apologised to Sainz – something which he later admitted he “hated” doing.
The performances follow a learn 2021 for Ricciardo, who finished eighth overall in the drivers’ championship.