Daniel Ricciardo may sit well in the top 10 in the F1 driver rankings, but he remains one of the sport’s most iconic figures.
And the legions of fans were completely out of action when McLaren planned to replace him with young Australian driver Oscar Piastri next season, even though Ricciardo is under contract until 2023.
The 33-year-old’s career has been on a bit of a downward spiral since he fired Sebastian Vettel and faced Max Verstappen at Red Bull. But no one wants to see it end this way.
All-Aussie F1 bombshell: Ricciardo ‘told’ McLaren to replace Piastri
According to ESPN’s Nate Saunders, four teams recently voted in Ricciardo to “see where his head is at” and criticized McLaren for its handling of the Aussie.
“The way they have handled Ricciardo over the last six months at Brawn and McLaren is very poor,” Saunders wrote. Ricciardo, the only McLaren driver to win an F1 race since 2012, is the first to admit his performances have not been up to the standards set by Red Bull and Renault. To avoid deep problems in the group.
He was not alone in praising the Aussie unit during the riots.
Tom Gaymore tweeted: “You have to thank Ricciardo for his grace and professionalism these last few months amidst all this talk and pressure. “It says everything about him as a person, he’s a class act and I hope he’s smiling and doing it like he is.”
But others saw it differently, believing that Ricciardo was a spent force and that his replacement was part and parcel of F1’s cut-throat nature.
“Richardo is getting a taste of his own medicine when he leaves Renault for McLaren and it’s proof that this is not the right move for him,” Sahil Mohan Gupta tweeted. “If he doesn’t leave F1 now, he could go to Alpine. That’s crazy.”
“I’ll always be a Ricciardo fan, but can you really blame McLaren?” Added Ganon Berget. “They are paying the price for a driver who has only scored 20% of the team’s points so far.”
“Please don’t bring Alpine back!” Tiff Nedell tweeted. “Love Daniel but he’s been in F1 for 12 years, he’s got a few million in the bank and a lot of other motorsports. So give someone else a chance! “
Despite the rapid turn of events this week, Ricciardo’s future could take a long time to settle as McLaren could face a challenge from the Alpine in the Piaster hunt.
The West Australian could spend a year with McLaren’s IndyCar team to see out the deal, or accept a payout and join another team. If Piastri can leave, that team could be Alpine.
Who is Oscar Piastri?
Born in Melbourne, Piastri In 2019, he joined the Alpine Academy after taking the Formula Renault Eurocup title and scoring seven wins.
He carried his form into the Formula 3 series in 2020, winning his first race and securing the title by three points in one of the most closely fought championships.
The following year he was on the Formula 2 grid, taking six wins to unequivocally announce his arrival on the world stage, becoming the third rookie champion behind Charles Leclerc (2017) and George Russell (2018). Both are now in F1.
Despite his rapid progress, Piastri has neglected to drive in Formula One this season due to a lack of available seats, instead lurking at Alpine ready to replace Esteban Ocon or Alonso if they are forced to miss the race.
It is run by fellow Aussie and 9-time F1 race winner Mark Webber. “Does he deserve to be in F1? Absolutely, we all know,” says Weber. “Not if, but when.”
“Oscar’s bedtime stories were mainly car books,” his father Chris told The Sydney Morning Herald, describing the Piastri family as “petrol bosses”.
He started racing remote control cars at age six and graduated to piloting go-karts at age nine.
His mother Nicole told The Age newspaper earlier this year that her son had progressed to Formula One.
“I think he’s got everything he needs to get there and do a good job, but that’s just a small thing.
“There are a lot of things that come into a Formula One seat – politics, money, seat availability.”
Chris Piastiri has indicated that Webber’s involvement from Formula 3 is key to helping his son reach his goals, opening the door to funding and sponsorship to help with the high costs of being a competitive driver.
“Mark knows it all. “It was at that time, meeting with the groups, that Oscar began to manage the visibility of the groups.”
Weber said it was a “no-brainer” to help. “It’s hard to turn heads, especially in the F1 paddock, because they’re so hard to please,” he said.
But there aren’t many people who haven’t told me about him – how impressed they are with him, what he’s doing, the direction he’s in.
– with AFP