It is possible that Daniel Ricciardo will be shown the exit door at McLaren after the 2022 season.
In Monaco, there has been some confusion about the duration of the Australian’s fixed contract, after he appeared to accidentally admit that the term ends this year.
“It’s clear – I’ve got a contract until the end of ’23,” Ricciardo said before crashing in Monaco practice. “Covid messed me up so I just get confused with the years.”
However, paddock rumblings suggest McLaren CEO Zak Brown is seriously considering replacing the 32-year-old for 2023.
“Paper is more patient than reality,” former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher told Sky Deutschland.
“If it stays the way it is not, I don’t see him at McLaren next year. The rumours and the statements from the team are getting louder.
“He’s just too far away from his teammate.”
Indeed, whilst not wanting to talk about the current contract, Brown revealed that certain “mechanisms” would allow McLaren to part with Ricciardo.
“We’ll keep watching for now, not any single race in particular but we’ll see how it develops and what Daniel himself wants to do next,” the American said.
Ricciardo told Sport1 that he doesn’t take any criticism from Brown “personally”.
“The truth is yes – I haven’t had a great time this year,” said the former Red Bull and Renault driver. “So it’s normal for people to look at me critically.
“Obviously I’d prefer that he says nice things about me, but on the other hand McLaren’s expectations of me are clearly high, and that’s actually a positive.”
He admits his entire McLaren tenure so far has been “more difficult than ever”.
“I didn’t even have problems like this at HRT or Toro Rosso,” said Ricciardo. “Even if I had a bad race, the consistency and speed were still there.
“So it’s hard for me to understand and I rarely have a black and white answer as to why I couldn’t find the three tenths that weekend.
“The important thing is that I stay clear-headed and don’t lose my confidence. But I’m convinced that I’m not too old or have lost my skills or my drive.
“The fire is still burning, otherwise I wouldn’t be here anymore.”