Motor racing: Ricciardo to leave McLaren at end of F1 season, Alpine's Piastri set to replace him

Daniel Ricciardo left one year before the end of his contract. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Daniel Ricciardo’s underwhelming time at McLaren will end after the 2022 Formula One season and a year before the Australian’s contract had been due to expire, both parties said on Wednesday (Aug 24).

Ricciardo joined from Renault at the end of 2020 but, despite winning last year’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza in a one-two finish, he has struggled to match British team mate Lando Norris’s performance.

Sharing the news with his 7.3 million followers on Instagram ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix which ends the sport’s August break, Ricciardo said the development was “bittersweet”.

“We put in a lot of effort on both sides but it just hasn’t worked the way we wanted, so the team’s decided to make a change for next year,” said the 33-year-old.

“We had a lot of 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, absolutely, and continue to give it my all ... What lies ahead, I’m not sure yet.”

Ricciardo is expected to be replaced by compatriot Oscar Piastri, the 21-year-old reserve driver for Renault-owned Alpine.

Alpine, however, say Piastri has a contract with them and want the youngster to replace departing double world champion Fernando Alonso, an offer the Australian has rejected.

McLaren would not comment on Ricciardo’s replacement, an unsurprising stance if Piastri’s case ends up in the law courts, and gave no details of the financial cost of terminating the contract.

That could amount to many millions, depending on Ricciardo’s next move.

Several other teams also have drivers out of contract at the end of the year.

“We are very hopeful that Daniel will be on the grid next year,” McLaren Racing chief executive Zak Brown told reporters.

Ricciardo, one of the sport’s biggest and most popular personalities, said he would look back with a smile and had learned things at McLaren that would help him for the next step in his career and life in general.

“From a results point of view, to consistently get the results in that form that I was after, it wasn’t always there and made some weekends tough. I felt those absolutely. But I also have many happy memories of my time at the team,” he said.

This season Ricciardo has scored a mere 19 points, with a highest position of sixth, compared to Norris’s 76 from 13 races and a third place at Imola.

Brown said it had been important to make the announcement ahead of the weekend so the team could go racing without distractions.

“It’s a very amicable and friendly relationship with Daniel,” he said.

“It’s obviously disappointing for it to come to an but we reflect back on Monza, which is my personal most exciting moment in my time here at McLaren.”

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