F1 2022, Zak Brown, McLaren, Daniel Ricciardo contract, British Grand Prix, Austrian Grand Prix, Lando Norris, points, drivers market

Zak Brown says he remains “totally determined” to unleash Daniel Ricciardo’s full potential amid speculation the eight-time Grand Prix winner’s McLaren stay could be cut short.

Ricciardo’s driving style mismatch with last year’s car was expected to evaporate under the all-new rules for 2022, but so far he’s seen results barely bettered by over his troubled first campaign. He scored just twice in 10 Grands Prix for 15 points, while team-mate Lando Norris amassed 58 points via seven top-10 finishes, including a podium at Imola.

The nadir, back-to-back off-pace races in his season at Spain and Monaco – Norris scored points in both despite suffering a severe tonsillitis attack – even prompted an apparent rebuke from CEO Brown, who has publicly admitted that the Top-tier Aussie wasn’t meeting the team’s expectations.

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Brown: Daniel loves us and we love him | 01:05

The unusually candid commentary has become a focal point of McLaren’s season, but in an exclusive interview with Fox Motorsport host Jessica Yates at the McLaren Technology Center ahead of last weekend’s British Grand Prix, Brown denied that they should be interpreted as him doubting Ricciardo’s ability to tour. things around.

“It was just an honest answer, it wasn’t meant to be critical,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we don’t think he can win us more races, that doesn’t mean we aren’t trying incredibly hard — quite the contrary; I know he can win us more races, we are trying incredibly hard.

“But given his CV and how Lando is doing, do we expect him to be right next to Lando, whether it’s right in front or right behind? Yes, and so is he.

“And we will get there. We are totally committed to it. »

The full interview is live on Kayo now and available for free through Kayo Freebies.

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Having also appeared to leave the door open to the possibility that the three-year deal linking Ricciardo to McLaren could be truncated, Brown insisted that would not be the case.

“Oh yeah,” he confirmed when asked if Ricciardo would see his contract with the team.

“He’s a fighter, and his results since we said that – that’s not how they were intended – have been a lot closer to Lando, and he beat Lando, so maybe there was something… that ignited it.

“We love working with him. He loves the team. We have seen that when we give him a winning car, he can win with it.

“Like he said last year, he didn’t feel like he had a good season last year and he still won. So that’s in there. We just have to find how to unlock him, give him a car he is more comfortable with.

Brown also hit back at suggestions that it was unwise for the CEO to publicly criticize his drivers’ performance, particularly when team principal Andreas Seidl staunchly defended Ricciardo during his struggles.

“I saw one of our former Grand Prix riders say, ‘Well, we all know that; I can’t believe he said it,” he said, referring to Jenson Button. “Well, if we all know that, then what’s the problem that I said it?

“I know it caused a lot of ripples outside [but] Daniel and I have a great relationship. We had dinner in London shortly after. We exchange WhatsApps all the time. Someone asked me a question and I gave them an honest answer. This is the same answer Daniel gave and would give, that is, we are not where we want to be.

“I think on the other hand, if I had said, ‘No, it’s fine’, I think someone would have said, ‘Really, are you happy to be 12th? “. Of course, I’m not happy with the 12th.

Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

He also reiterated his belief that the Norris-Ricciardo partnership could still deliver on paper.

“We were lucky to find Lando at a young age so he’s been in our system,” he said.

“He is definitely a future world champion. We just have to give him a car that can win races, and then he will start winning races.

“I tried to get Daniel into our car a few years ago – he ended up going to Renault and then we gave him yet another ride, this time successfully.

“Who are the best drivers who have the most talent on the track, who we will love to work with, who our race team will love to work with, who our fans will love, who our sponsors will love? I think we have that with Daniel and Lando.

In the full 20-minute interview, Brown also explains how he hopes to change McLaren as he establishes himself at the helm of the company, as well as his expectations for the rest of the F1 season and his hopes for the switch. from GM’s Walkinshaw Andretti United to Ford for next year’s Supercars campaign.

The full interview is live on Kayo now and available for free through Kayo Freebies.

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