Two races gone and the decision is already in — Daniel Ricciardo leaving McLaren was a masterstroke.
The 33-year-old was famously sacked final yr with a season to run on his contract and changed by fellow Aussie Oscar Piastri — and to this point it appears to be like like the perfect sacking in historical past.
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McLaren is tied with Alpha Tauri for useless final within the constructors’ standings on zero factors after two races and their season is already being written off as a catastrophe.
Engine failure meant Piastri couldn’t end his debut in Bahrain, however the rookie impressed in Saudi Arabia, overtaking his teammate Lando Norris within the closing phases.
It was one other shocker for McLaren in Jeddah as each drivers had been compelled to return into the pits by lap 3 to exchange their broken entrance wings.
Norris has completed seventeenth in each races, prompting hypothesis the extremely touted Brit may very well be eyeing a transfer to Mercedes when Lewis Hamilton retires.
The F1 world declared Ricciardo was the massive winner of the season opener in Bahrain and the response was very a lot the identical after McLaren completed out of the factors as soon as once more in Jeddah.
It’s price remembering he walked away with a reported monster pay-out with some stories claiming the contract termination was price as much as $24 million.
The long run regarded vivid for McLaren once they completed third within the constructors’ championship in 2020, however the former big of F1 is at a crossroads after slipping down the standings in current seasons.
McLaren ordered Norris to not make life troublesome for Piastri and let him previous him, however talking after the race, Norris stated he might have simply saved the rookie at bay if he needed to.
“I fairly simply might have most likely saved the place on the finish and received previous the Williams however I simply let him go ultimately,” Norris quipped.
“It might be completely different if I used to be preventing for factors however sixteenth and seventeenth, it doesn’t matter to me.”
That considerably salty remark raised the eyebrows of many, together with 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg
“Have you ever ever heard a racing driver say, ‘Oh I simply determined to let my teammate previous?’,” Rosberg laughed on Sky Sports activities.
The telling remark from Norris reveals the duty Piastri is up in opposition to and the problem of being a crew’s No. 2 driver.
McLaren instructing Norris to let Piastri overtake him was an intriguing sight given Ricciardo wasn’t granted that luxurious too typically throughout his two seasons on the papaya crew.
Sky Sports activities commentator Karun Chandhok stated Piastri staying sizzling on Norris’ tail and taking it proper as much as the crew’s star driver was a promising signal for McLaren, regardless of their struggles.
“It was good to see each drivers operating shut collectively,” Sky Sports activities commentator Karun Chandhok stated.
“I do know they had been on completely different methods and Lando’s tyres had been degrading however Oscar pitted on lap 1 and was managing that set of arduous tyres.
“It’s excellent news for McLaren. That aspect of the storage with (engineer) Tom Stallard have had a fairly robust couple of years with Daniel, attempting to get him up to the mark. Oscar — second outing, certified in Q3.”
Ricciardo is Crimson Bull’s reserve driver this season and can attend his first race of the season at subsequent month’s Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.
He’s taking a break from the psychological and bodily rigours of F1’s 23-race calendar, along with his function entailing simulator work and advertising and marketing duties on the races he does attend.