McLaren may be saying goodbye to Daniel Ricciardo after this season, calling time on their partnership a year early, but Andreas Seidl says he still rates the Australian driver.
Despite being McLaren’s only race winner in the last decade, Ricciardo’s two years with the Woking team have not yielded the results either party expected.
It led to an almost continuously barrage of rumours claiming the 33-year-old’s time at the team was running out, that ramping up at the start of the summer break when it was reported McLaren was the team to have signed Oscar Piastri from under Alpine’s nose.
But while that has yet to be confirmed, Ricciardo opened the door to Piastri on Wednesday when he announced this season would be his final campaign with McLaren.
Ricciardo is bidding farewell to the team a year early despite only weeks ago insisting he’ll be a McLaren driver come 2023.
But after “a lot of discussions” with his McLaren bosses, he and the team “mutually agreed that it was the right thing for both” of them to call time on their partnership.
Despite Ricciardo’s pending exit, team boss Seidl says he still rates the driver as one of the best on the grid.
“I think we have both commented many times about challenges we had on Daniel’s side of the garage regarding extracting the same performance the car as on Lando’s side,” he said as per Crash.net.
“Daniel has said many times that he just never felt fully comfortable in our car, especially when it was about pushing the car to the absolute limit. That was, in the end, causing the lap time difference to Lando.
“At the same time, we have technology that tells us Lando is an outstanding driver, so he was up against one of the best ones in the paddock. This in the end led us to the decision. He just didn’t get it to work in the end.”
The team boss says McLaren carry some of the blame.
“For a driver being able to extract the performance from the car is a team effort between the driver and the team,” he added, “so I just want to be clear as well that I fully take the responsibility of being in charge of the team that couldn’t find the magic in order to find these percentages that we were seeing from time to time.
“That’s why at the end we came to the conclusion that we go our separate ways next year.”
Earlier in the season when McLaren CEO Zak Brown was speaking of disappointing performances and mechanisms for an early exit, Seidl was always the voice backing Ricciardo.
The German often spoke to the media about how he felt Ricciardo would eventually get it right, and insisted that the 33-year-old had a deal in place for next season.
He’s sorry to see Ricciardo go.
“From my point of view, on the racing side of the team, I’m obviously disappointed we didn’t manage to make it work,” Seidl added.
“But the respect I’m having for the person of Daniel Ricciardo, but also the race driver, hasn’t changed. I’m still convinced that he is one of the best ones around in this paddock.
“In the end, with him joining the team two-and-a-half years ago, with everything he brought to the team as well, with all of his experience also, it definitely helped us a lot to become in the end, a better team.
“I always really appreciated a lot his positivity and his enthusiasm, his help also. Helping me in difficult situations like at the start of this season when we had some tough times going into the first race.
“He never gave up and helped me also to keep the team in a good shape, helped me to keep the team motivated and stay flat-out, in order to not give up. That’s something I will definitely miss from him.”