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‘Money driven’ Ricciardo’s biggest F1 mistake


After showing encouraging performances at the opening pre-season test in Barcelona, McLaren’s hopes of building on that form heading into the opening race of the season hit a hurdle when Ricciardo missed the final test in Bahrain after contracting Covid-19.The team’s fortunes did not improve in the Bahrain Grand Prix with Ricciardo and teammate Lando Norris struggling in qualifying before finishing 14th and 15th, respectively, in the race.Speaking after the launch of Foxtel’s multi-year rights extension with F1, Croft was doubtful McLaren’s issues were a quick fix and questioned why Ricciardo ever made the decision to leave Red Bull.“The car is not very good. I saw a few McLaren staff after the race and they were like we’re not very hopeful at the moment, we need a big fix on this car and it’s not going to be an instant fix either,” Croft said.“As for his career, I was never totally sure why he left Red Bull to be fair. Red Bull was a really good fit for Daniel, they definitely wanted him to stay and I know that …. he felt they prioritised Max (Verstappen) and he would be the number one driver but it seemed a better idea than going to Renault.“Other than the money, I don’t understand why Daniel Ricciardo went to Renault. McLaren wanted to sign him and he decided he would go to Renault and he eventually has gone to McLaren and I hope he is not in the wrong place at the wrong time but you kind of feel that there is a little bit of that.“Last year’s car didn’t suit him, this year’s car so far isn’t very good. But he did win a race last year in Monza and he showed everyone just how good he is.“My thoughts are it’s team related at the moment, that he was underprepared for the race for obvious reasons and I hope in half a dozen races time he is storming through to take a podium.“Overall, I don’t think he should have left Red Bull, I really don’t, and I think his experiences on the track since he left Red Bull have kind of rather summed it up.”Ricciardo left Red Bull at the end of 2018 and spent two years at Renault, before his first season with McLaren last year.Fellow F1 expert Martin Brundle said McLaren faced “difficult days” after its disastrous start to the season in Bahrain and he felt sad for Ricciardo.“It’s difficult to read with McLaren,” Brundle said.“They looked so good actually in Barcelona and we had them all pegged as fourth fastest car, sort of up there somewhere about where they should be.“Then they had a disaster of a test in Bahrain, Daniel got Covid, qualifying was bad and the race was even worse and I know they have got a lot of changes to make.“(It’s) difficult days. I’m so sad for Daniel because he went home (to Australia) and I think he charged his batteries and he came off quite a difficult season despite a brilliant drive in winning Monza.“So he needed a fast start to this year and he has had anything but.”MORE MOTORSPORTF1 review: Mercedes to ‘take a chainsaw’ to Hamilton carHuge win for Aussie F1 fans as Foxtel deal extended – with exciting free addition F1 star’s hilarious last-lap prank is too soonRicciardo finished eighth in the drivers’ championship in his first year with McLaren last year in a season highlighted by a stunning victory at Monza – his first Formula One win since he was with Red Bull in 2018.Before his Monza breakthrough, it had been a testing start to his first season at McLaren as Ricciardo struggled to make an impact early and took until the 10th race of the year to crack the top-five at the British Grand Prix as he was outperformed by younger teammate Norris.Brundle hoped McLaren could deliver a car to match Ricciardo’s talents.“Hopefully we will see that flip-top smile of his and he hasn’t forgotten how to drive a Formula One car very quickly, I’m sure of that,” Brundle said.“Let’s hope that the car can match his talents and that he gets underway.”

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