McLaren boss reveals his biggest regret about signing Daniel Ricciardo

‘We’ve had to write a big cheque… that’s the one learning, it’s a big one’: McLaren boss Zak Brown reveals his biggest regret about signing Daniel Ricciardo, as team-mate Lando Norris gives his BRUTAL take on the Aussie’s sacking

  • McLaren boss says only regret was not having a better contract in place 
  • Zak Brown just assumed the under-performing Aussie would be successful 
  • McLaren teammate Lando Norris has no sympathy for Ricciardo’s plight

McLaren CEO Zak Brown admits his biggest regret about signing Daniel Ricciardo was not making his contract watertight so the team wouldn’t have to write him such a big cheque if it didn’t work out.

On Thursday, Brown said McLaren had no choice but to dump the struggling Aussie, claiming his poor performances on meant they had to rip up his contract a year before it was due to expire.

Brown said his only regrets were that there were no ‘protections’ in Ricciardo’s contract that would have made it easier for the Formula One team to sack him early without having to pay him out. 

The underperforming 33-year-old, who has won eight grand prix, will reportedly receive a payout from McLaren worth around $24million (£14.15m)

Veteran F1 star Daniel Ricciardo, 33, has endured a nightmare 2022, with just four top 10 finishes as he consistently lacks the pace of teammate Lando Norris

McLaren boss Zak Brown’s big regret is that he didn’t have a better contract in place with the Aussie, who will reportedly receive a payout worth around $24 million

‘I think my one learning there would just be contractual, I don’t think there’s anything we could have done differently for him as a driver,’ Brown said.

‘I’m sitting here right now thinking I don’t think we could have done something differently to make him more competitive. We tried all that.

‘We’ve had to end the relationship early. We’ve had to write a big cheque, which is fine because that’s the deal that we cut. 

‘I think what I’ll do next time is maybe have some more performance protections for us and not just assume that a great driver’s going to always be great. I think that’s the one learning as more a contractual one, but it’s a big one.’

Brown explained that McLaren were expecting much better performances from Ricciardo, who had a stellar resume when he signed up.

Brown says he just assumed Ricciardo (pictured on his way to winning the Italian Grand Prix in 2021) would be great

‘I think the only thing is from a business standpoint, we could have (thought about), ‘What if it doesn’t work?’ I think we went into it so excited and not really thinking of a downside scenario.

Meanwhile, Ricciardo’s McLaren teammate Lando Norris – who has comprehensively outperformed him since his arrival in 2021 – offered a brutal take on the Aussie’s sacking.

Asked if he had any sympathy for Ricciardo, the Briton didn’t mince words.

 ‘I hate to say it, but I would say no,’ he responded.

‘People will probably hate me for saying it.

Ricciardo’s teammate Lando Norris (pictured) has no sympathy for the Aussie’s plight.

‘And it’s difficult because I never know if I might encounter that in the future with this car or a different team, or whatever, so I never want to contradict myself going into the future.

‘I’ve just got to focus on my driving and my job. It’s not my job to focus on someone else and I’m not a driver coach. I’m not here to help and do those kinds of things.’

Ricciardo’s exit leaves his Formula One career in limbo, with the Australian desperate to secure another seat for 2023.  

While Ricciardo has options for next year, most notable Alpine, a drive next year is no certainty and speaking to the media ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix, the Aussie says he would consider taking a year out of the sport.

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