Ex-F1 racer David Coulthard does not believe drivers lose their speed, but wonders if Daniel Ricciardo has lost the “need” for Formula 1.
It had been rumoured for some time that Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren could part ways before their contract ended in 2023, and ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix, this outcome was confirmed.
Ricciardo will leave the Woking outfit at the end of the 2022 season, with his replacement yet to be announced, though it is expected to be Oscar Piastri.
Ricciardo says he is intent on remaining in Formula 1, should the right opportunity come up, and is not interested in competing in another series, though his performance at Spa did not exactly back up that talk.
The Aussie would be described as looking like a “broken man” by former F1 driver turned pundit Martin Brundle after crossing the line P15.
Coulthard would offer his take on Ricciardo’s situation during Channel 4’s coverage of the Belgian GP, pondering whether Ricciardo is now at a stage in his life where he has made enough money and that “youthful hunger” is gone, and so Formula 1 is no longer a necessity in his life.
“I hope that wherever he ends up, assuming he ends up in Formula 1, that he will rediscover his mojo,” said Coulthard.
“But for me, I think it’s as simple as that, I don’t think drivers lose the speed, whatever age they are, it’s they lose the need.
“And I just wonder whether for whatever reason, Daniel’s found a place in his life where he’s got enough money to not have to worry about that going forward, whether he’s just lost that raw, youthful hunger that he had when he first arrived in the sport.
“These guys arrive earlier, so they tend to be retiring earlier. [Like] Seb [Vettel], 35 years old, so it’s pretty young to be hanging up your helmet. Daniel is 33.”
Ricciardo arrived at McLaren as a seven-time race winner, and although he took the chequered flag for an eighth time at the 2021 Italian GP with McLaren, his performance level against team-mate Lando Norris has generally fallen well below expectations.
This played a major role in McLaren’s decision to secure an early split from Ricciardo.
Norris’ outperformance of Ricciardo has continued into 2022 despite the major overhaul to the regulations, which has surprised Coulthard, even though he rates Norris as a potential world champion of the future.
“We hoped that 2022 regulation change was going to bring Daniel into a window where he was comparable to Lando,” Coulthard stated. “And it’s really been the biggest surprise to me, given he’s an eight-time grand prix winner, quality racer.
“But I think it highlights just how strong Lando is as a racer, and potential world champion of the future, that Daniel just hasn’t matched him.
“We did get that one victory in Monza, which was more about track positioning than actually really truly outperforming Lando on the day.
“So yeah, they are going to separate at the end of the year, it remains to be seen where Daniel will end up.”
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