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Zak Brown reveals biggest regret over $24 million Daniel Ricciardo McLaren payout, contract

McLaren boss Zach Brown says he regrets not making Daniel Ricciardo’s contract more watertight so the team doesn’t pay him a mega payout.

Ricciardo has confirmed that the 2022 season will be his last at McLaren, with the two sides agreeing to part ways with 12 months left on his contract.

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“Obviously we tried hard on both sides but it didn’t work out the way we wanted so the team decided to make a change for next year,” he said in an emotional Instagram post.

“We had many discussions but in the end we mutually agreed it was the right thing for both of us.

“I will continue to do the rest of this year in full. And I will continue to give it my all.

“For the future, what the future holds for me, (I’m) not sure yet. But we’ll see.”

In the year The 33-year-old, who has won eight grand prix races since making his debut in 2011, is reportedly set to earn an eight-figure fee of around AU$24 million from McLaren – including salary and performance bonuses.

He is expected to be replaced by his young compatriot Oscar Piastre, F2 champion and current Alpine test driver.

Speaking on the High Performance podcast just hours after news of Ricciardo’s sacking was announced, Braun said McLaren tried their best to help Australia, but his poor showing in the end gave them no choice but to sack him.

“We’re not sure, he’s not sure,” Brown told Ricciardo where he went wrong.

“We tried to change cars and change people. Two seasons, two different cars. We thought one year, maybe I won’t get into the car. Two years, this is a completely different car.

Daniel Ricciardo's time at McLaren is over.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Daniel Ricciardo’s time at McLaren is over. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“But we’ve gotten to the point where our only strategy is hope, and hope is not a great strategy. So it is a great mystery.

“We saw it in Monza, it’s in there. The man didn’t win eight Grands Prix by accident, we couldn’t open together. And Lando is driving well and getting the car to work.

“So I don’t think there’s anything we could have done differently or seen or should have known.”

Ricciardo’s only high point at McLaren came last year when he won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

But Brown said he and McLaren were expecting far better overall performances from a driver with Ricciardo’s CV.

“It’s interesting,” he said.

He had won seven Grands Prix and was the hottest driver you could ever meet.

“And I think we probably thought that and I think he’s going to pick up right where he left off.”

Asked if he had any regrets about the Ricciardo saga, Brown confirmed there were “protections” in Ricciardo’s contract that would have allowed him to fire him early without having to pay McLaren.

Ricciardo was the only party with the right to terminate his contract early, meaning McLaren would have to foot the bill for his wages for 2023.

“I think the only thing I learned there is the contract, I don’t think there’s anything we can do differently for him as a driver,” Brown said.

Zach Brown was trying to structure Richardson’s contract differently. (Photo by Chandan Khanna/AFP)Source: AFP

“I’m sitting here now and I don’t think we can do anything different to make him more competitive. We tried all that.

“We should have ended our relationship earlier. We had to write a big check, which is good because that’s the deal we’re cutting. I think what I would do next time is maybe have some more performance expectations for us and not just assume that a great driver will always be good. I think he will learn more as a contract, but it is big. “

Brown said McLaren had high hopes for Ricciardo when he joined the team, but it would have been wiser to hedge and cover themselves with the clauses in the contract.

He continued, “I think the only thing is, from a business perspective, we[suppose]’What if it doesn’t work?’ I think we went into it too excited and not thinking about what went down.

But you don’t know if you’ll get those contract protections. Now I can sit here and say, ‘I wish I had this in the contract,’ but who knows if he’ll agree to the contract.

But he also might have, because he might be going, ‘Well that’s never going to happen’.

McLaren owes Ricciardo more than $20 million. (Photo by Attila KISBENEDEK / AFP)Source: AFP

Brown previously revealed that he had made a desperate bid to keep Ricciardo on the McLaren roster by offering him a seat in the United States’ leading single-seater championship – IndyCar.

Ricciardo could have saved McLaren millions if he accepted IndyCar’s offer, but the Aussie is determined to stay on the F1 grid.

Ricciardo’s future in Formula 1 is up in the air and it is unclear whether he will have a seat on the grid next year.

His landing spot is Alpine, the French team that left to join McLaren is now caught in a chaotic triangle between Ricciardo, Piastieri and manager Mark Webber.

Ricciardo could move further back on the grid and join one of Williams, Haas or Alfa Romeo, but that could see him drive a lower car with a significantly reduced pay packet.

The F1 season resumes after the mid-year break with the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday at 11pm (AEST). There are nine races left in this season.

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