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What’s going on with McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo?

Red Bull's Helmut Marko has come out in support of his previous protege Daniel Ricciardo

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McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo has so far had a tough start to his 2022 Formula 1 season. The affable Australian was forced to miss part of the pre-season tests after contracting the coronavirus and has so far struggled to match his teammate Lando Norris.

While Ricciardo had somewhat of a renaissance in at the 2022 Saudi Arabian GP, qualifying one place lower than Norris before ultimately suffering a mechanical failure, when combined with his performance from the previous season, it is obvious to see that Norris has the upper hand despite Ricciardo‘s win at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.

Marshals push the car of McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo after he retired from the Saudi Arabian GP ERS/Hamad I Mohammed/Pool

Marko rallies to Ricciardo’s support

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko, however, has rallied to Ricciardo’s support, insisting that the Australian’s raw speed should not be underestimated.

Marko, the head of the Red Bull junior program, was instrumental in bringing Ricciardo into the sport and has compared the McLaren driver’s abilities to current world champion Max Verstappen and former quadruple champion Sebastian Vettel.

“Daniel [Ricciardo] still seems to be having a hard time at McLaren.Β But writing him off would be a mistake,” Marko told F1-Insider.

“We know what he can do. Not just because he looked strong against Vettel in 2014 – but because nobody else here drove on par with Max Verstappen. And it wasn’t that long ago.

“I wish him success. It’s enough if he finishes third behind our two drivers.”

What next?

It was not too long ago that Ricciardo was hailed as a future world champion. While we may never know the truth, his decision to leave Red Bull was primarily motivated by the team’s desire to back 2021 world champion Verstappen.

While his two-year stint with Renault didn’t do him any favors, his decision to join McLaren has so far yielded a win. The issue for Ricciardo though is that much like Red Bull, current McLaren incumbent Norris is tipped as a future star in his own right. The British driver is wildly popular and is a decade younger than Ricciardo.

If Ricciardo is to live up to his potential then he must start beating Norris on a more consistent basis. Triumphing over his teammate would put him back on the path of securing a world championship, especially if the acquisition rumors hovering around McLaren are true.

The good thing for Ricciardo is that he holds the key to his future. Whether or not he can beat Norris on track is another matter altogether.

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