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Speculation is mounting that Daniel Ricciardo may soon have to weigh up his next career move following a dreadful start to the 2022 season with McLaren. The Australian has notched just one top-10 finish in seven races – crossing the line sixth in his home Australian Grand Prix – and lies 11th in the standings on just 11 points.
The latest race weekend in Monaco proved another miserable one for ‘The Honey Badger’, following a bad crash in the second qualifying session. He went on to finish 13th in the race itself, in the same week that McLaren CEO Zak Brown had admitted his driver had underwhelmed since joining for the 2021 season.
His personality has also been questioned by former Australian F1 star Alan Jones, and rumours are rife the 32-year-old will be leaving the British team prior to 2023. And it has prompted much debate as to what the popular star will do next.
A ‘time-out’ for Ricciardo? Since his debut in for Hispania Racing in 2011, stints at Toro Rosso, Red Bull, Renault and now McLaren have not yielded a world title for Ricciardo – but that’s not stopped him building up a sizeable net worth. Indeed, his £15 million home in Los Angeles is proof of that. So if the worst should happen, safe to assume that the option of a year or two away from the sport would not cause too much financial hardship.
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Another seat in F1? A driver with eight F1 wins to his name, plus a third-placed finish in the Championship in 2014, is always going to have an appeal. And if he continues to struggle at McLaren, then other teams are likely to be alerted.
The future of Nicholas Latifi at Williams is currently up in the air as the Canadian continues to struggle, with 14th in Miami his best finish in 2022. Mick Schumacher’s crash in Monaco also compounded his difficulties in his year-and-a-half at Haas, with the German yet to notch an F1 point. For either of those teams, Ricciardo would surely be viewed as an upgrade.
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A motorsport move out of F1? Ricciardo’s sole win for McLaren came this far came at a dramatic Italian Grand Prix in Monza last year, and his reward for his success was telling. At the US Grand Prix later in the year, Brown honoured a bet between the two over what would happen if he managed a podium finish in 2021.
The prize was to let Ricciardo drive a NASCAR stock car at Circuit of The Americas, and he duly enjoyed a jaunt in Dale Earnhardt Sr’s 1984 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. So given his clear interest in that format of racing, NASCAR bosses would surely snap at the chance to secure a driver with Ricciardo’s profile.
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