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Daniel Ricciardo McLaren move a ‘disappointment’, Lando Norris record

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Ask Daniel Ricciardo himself and he’ll say the 2021 F1 season was not his best — and others within the sport agree.

The 32-year-old is an F1 veteran but moving to his third team in four years wasn’t as easy a move as he hoped.

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While Ricciardo claimed his eighth career victory in a stunning result at Monza, it was a tough year at McLaren as he struggled to adapt to a unique braking system and feel comfortable in the papaya.

He ended the season in eighth on 115 points, four points down on his fifth-placed finish in 2020 — despite having five more races in his most recent campaign.

And he was schooled by his young teammate Lando Norris, finishing 45 points behind the 22-year-old Brit.

Norris used his comfort in the McLaren to school Ricciardo across the season, claiming a qualifying advantage of 14-8 and race advantage of 15-7 over his much more experienced teammate.

The grid took notice as well as Ricciardo didn’t finish in the top 10 drivers as voted by the team principals.

But Monza was pretty great though. Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP
But Monza was pretty great though. Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFPSource: AFP

He’s now copping it from other angles as well. Ex-McLaren driver and Mercedes reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne said Ricciardo dodged disaster by winning in Monza — which papered over the cracks of an underwhelming season.

“If I have to point to one small disappointment about the season, I would almost say Daniel Ricciardo,” the Belgian told RTBF.

“It’s true that he won at Monza, but in general he was a little bit behind Lando Norris, whereas he is usually the leader in the teams he drives for.

“If you take away his win in Italy, 2021 is a bit of a difficult season for Daniel.”

Ricciardo, who has been honest about his performance in 2021, also didn’t let himself off the hook.

Before Christmas, Ricciardo gave himself scores out of 10 for the season, saying: “The first part of the season is probably a four, the second part a seven.”

He added it was “not through lack of trying”.

Ricciardo struggled late in the season, finishing in the points just once in his last five races and scoring only three times in the eight races after his Monza triumph.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, Ricciardo said he may have had too much confidence early in the year after he finished well at Renault and then outqualified Norris in Bahrain.

“Maybe that was bad, because then it was probably even more head scratching that I was in a way going backwards over the next course of races,” Ricciardo said.

“But yeah, I think now the second half of the season, it went better. I got the win and did all this, and confirmed a lot of stuff to myself.

“I’m happy. I’m happy where things are. It’s not perfect. But I’m happy.”

It wasn’t a complete disaster by any means. Photo by Clive Rose/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Ricciardo’s first half of the year struggles continued right up to the summer break.

“As dejected as I was at the time, part of me was also happy, because I was like, alright, the first half has been what it was,” Ricciardo said.

“It’s nearly laughable in some ways. So let’s just f*** it off, jump on a plane and just not care about F1 for two weeks.

“I think everyone operates differently, but I need that escape sometimes. I’m not a driver that goes to bed every night thinking of F1. So I knew it was going to be healthy for me.”

Now 2021 is in the books, a year Ricciardo said was one of the most challenging of his career.

On the bright side, the first year of his three-year deal at McLaren was without a doubt better than his first season at Renault in 2019, where he tallied just 54 points and finished ninth in the drivers’ championship.

McLaren have a pretty good team together. Photo by Joe Portlock/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

And McLaren’s executive racing director Andrea Stella said Ricciardo has already proved an invaluable asset for the team.

“We know there is more to come with Daniel,” Stella told reporters, as quoted by GPFans.

“In a way, we have a sort of development plan and I am looking forward to being able to see what we will be able to do next year with Daniel.

“I am very optimistic from this point of view, and let me just say that working with him is a real pleasure.

“He creates a really nice atmosphere in the team, which is a good foundation for the technical and driving development.”

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McLaren boss Zak Brown ‘wouldn’t be shocked’ if Lewis Hamilton quits before 2022 season

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McLaren CEO Zak Brown says he “wouldn’t be shocked” if Lewis Hamilton chose to quit Formula One before the start of the 2022 season.

The seven-time world champion has kept his cards close to his chest since he missed out on last year’s title to Max Verstappen, who overtook him on the last lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in controversial circumstances.

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Speculation has been rife about Hamilton’s future after he was beaten to the world championship for the first time since 2016.

The 36-year-old and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff snubbed the end-of-season F1 gala, even though they were required to attend.

Hamilton, who is contracted with Mercedes to the end of 2023, is yet to publicly confirm whether he will race on this year, but Wolff is hopeful his charge will return to the grid.

Brown, who is the boss of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris, said he wouldn’t be surprised if Hamilton called it quits and walked away from F1.

“I wouldn’t be shocked if he stopped, so I don’t think anyone should take for granted he’s coming back,” he said.

“My personal opinion is he’s going to (continue racing), but I don’t think we should discount or not recognise his frustration and his anger.

Lewis Hamilton’s F1 future is up in the air. (Photo by Kamran Jebreili – Pool/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“Maybe he hasn’t made a decision and maybe what he’s doing is taking time to make that decision to make sure, because once that decision is made, that decision is made.

“So, I don’t think we should rule it out or make light of it. I just personally think he still has a burning desire to race and that will ultimately drive his decision.”

Ultimately Brown believes Hamilton will continue to race in F1, driven by the desire to win a record-breaking eighth world championship.

“I think he’ll be back,” he said.

“He’s a racing driver. I think he’s at the top of his game.

“I’m sure he’s very angry, but I think race car drivers want to race and I think he’s a fighter, and he’ll want to come back and try to win an eighth championship.

“I don’t think he’s ready to retire; this is my own personal opinion, I’ve not talked to him, because once you hang it up, you hang it up.

“I guess you could come back as some have done, but I don’t think he’s ready to hang it up and I don’t think he’s going to let an incident put him into retirement.”

Hamilton lost the 2021 world championship to Max Verstappen in controversial circumstances. (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP)Source: AFP

Brown’s comments come after former F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone predicted Hamilton will retire before the 2022 season, which begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20.

The Brit reportedly also reportedly ignored messages from newly-elected FIA president Mahamaaed Ben Sulayem as time ticks on towards the start of the 2022 season.

Hamilton is expected to attend the virtual launch of Mercedes’ 2022 car on February 18.

Meanwhile, the fallout from the dramatic season finale in Abu Dhabi has continued.

The FIA, F1’s governing body, will reveal the results of their investigation into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on March 18, just two days before the season gets underway in Bahrain.

There have been calls for the FIA to sack Australian race director Michael Masi, after he came under fire for his use of the safety car in the dying stages of the race.

Many F1 fans criticised Masi for his decision to move only the lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to set up a final lap shootout between the two rivals.

Verstappen, on fresh tyres, overtook Hamilton to win the world title.

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F1 news 2022, Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, 2021 title, appeal, decision date, new season calendar, full race schedule

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Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton must wait two more months for motorsport chiefs to reveal the results of their inquiry into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix where the Dutchman clinched the 2021 world title.

Governing body, the FIA, said Thursday that the outcome will not be revealed until March 18, just two days before the 2022 season gets underway in Bahrain.

Hamilton was poised to capture a record-breaking eighth world title at the Abu Dhabi finale in December before a controversial safety car restart allowed Verstappen to pass the British driver on the last lap.

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(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

The incident has led to speculation that a disillusioned 37-year-old Hamilton may be prepared to turn his back on Formula One.

On Thursday, the FIA said that team chiefs as well as representatives of the ruling body will meet on January 19 to discuss the use of the safety car.

Drivers will also be brought into the discussions, it said.

“The outcome of the detailed analysis will be presented to the F1 Commission in February, and final decisions will be announced at the World Motor Sport Council in Bahrain on 18 March,” added the FIA.

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F1 news 2022, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, retirement, quit, latest, new contract, 2022 calendar, season

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Lewis Hamilton’s F1 future still remains unclear with just 69 days to go until the 2022 season begins as the FIA’s investigation into the how the 2021 season ended now thought to be key in his decision making.

The FIA has pledged to investigate the controversial circumstances around the final lap of the 2021 season which saw Max Verstappen pip Hamilton to the world title in Abu Dhabi.

Mercedes withdrew their appeal against the result after the FIA announced they would launch an investigation into the events surrounding the safety car procedures.

Hamilton made a cryptic reference to his future in his post-race interview with former teammate Jenson Button.

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(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“We gave it everything and never gave up and that’s the most important thing. We’ll see about next year,” he said.

This pledge is now reportedly crucial in whether Hamilton decides to get into a Formula 1 car again, according to Sky Sports, and the delay in its findings are seemingly impacting the delay in the seven-time world champion’s decision.

Sky Sports News’ Craig Slater reported: “With 69 days to go until the first Grand Prix in Bahrain, it is still unclear whether Lewis Hamilton will be on the grid.

“In terms of Hamilton coming back to Formula 1, having the appetite to do so and getting over the ‘disillusionment’ that his team boss Toto Wolff said he felt after Abu Dhabi, the onus is on the FIA to deliver on the pledge they made before Christmas to investigate the happenings on that final lap and to come up with some findings.

“It is understood that Mercedes want to see something tangible. It’s been put to me like this: the longer this drags on then the worse the Lewis Hamilton situation is, and that is from a senior source.”

The 23-race 2022 season begins on March 18 with winter testing for the all-new generation of cars beginning on February 23.

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