McLaren plan to cut ties with Daniel Ricciardo, despite the fact that he is under contract with the team through the end of the 2023 Formula 1 season.
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” And that’s exactly what is happening at the McLaren Formula 1 team.
We finally know the truth, and it’s what many have speculated all along: McLaren have no plans to continue with Daniel Ricciardo as a part of their driver lineup for the 2023 season.
Even after the team, and Ricciardo himself, stated on multiple occasions that they were committed to each other for the rest of their current contract, which runs through 2023, there was intense speculation that there were behind-the-scenes moves taking place which could lead to the Woking-based team cutting the 33-year-old Australian a year early.
McLaren have reportedly told Ricciardo that they plan to replace him with Oscar Piastri in 2023. Piastri currently serves as the Alpine reserve driver, having previously been a part of the organization’s driver academy. He also joined McLaren’s pool of reserve drivers ahead of the 2022 season.
After two-time world champion Fernando Alonso announced that he would be moving to Aston Martin to replace four-time world champion, Alpine announced that Piastri would be replacing him.
Piastri proceeded to pull an Alex Palou and deny the press release, stating that he would not actually be driving for the team next year.
There had been rumors earlier in the summer that Piastri was going to be loaned out from Alpine to Williams as Nicholas Latifi’s replacement, but after Piastri’s message, it became quite obvious that he wasn’t going to be bailing on the Enstone team just to drive the grid’s slowest car.
It also became obvious that the second McLaren seat, a seat to which no fewer than six or seven others had been seriously linked at some point during the “is Ricciardo actually staying?” phase, was his 2023 destination, and that is expected to be formally confirmed in the near future.
Ricciardo has been linked to Alpine as Alonso’s replacement, though Alfa Romeo and Williams remain possibilities.
While Ricciardo’s McLaren tenure, which ironically began after he left Alpine (then Renault) following the 2020 season, has been less than stellar, he still delivered them their only win in the last decade.
Ricciardo headed a McLaren 1-2 finish — the only 1-2 finish for any team throughout a 22-race 2021 season dominated by Mercedes and Red Bull — ahead of teammate Lando Norris in last September’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza, giving him his first win since his seventh and final Red Bull win in May 2018 at Monaco.
McLaren hadn’t previously won a race since 2012.
Ricciardo finished the season in eighth place in the driver standings, two spots behind Norris in sixth. McLaren finished in fourth in the constructor standings.
This year, Norris sits in seventh place in the driver standings with four times as many points as Ricciardo, who has just one top seven finish, in 12th. McLaren sit in fifth in the constructor standings, just four points behind Alpine amid a rivalry that is sure to intensify following these recent developments.