Ricciardo took Brown dig as a ‘roundabout compliment’

Jon Wilde
Daniel Ricciardo and Zak Brown shake hands. Austin October 2021.

Daniel Ricciardo and Zak Brown shake hands at the United States Grand Prix. Austin October 2021.

Daniel Ricciardo says he took McLaren boss Zak Brown’s recent dig at his performances as a backhanded compliment.

Brown, the McLaren CEO, had previously steered clear of criticising Ricciardo for his largely underwhelming results since joining the team at the start of 2021 – the obvious exception to that description being his victory in last year’s Italian Grand Prix.

But after the Spanish Grand Prix, Brown expressed dissatisfaction, suggesting that was the feeling on both sides as the Australian continued to struggle compared to his team-mate, Lando Norris.

“Lando definitely has an edge. Obviously we would like to see Daniel much closer to Lando and have a good intra-team battle,” said the American.

“Daniel’s just not comfortable yet with the car. We are trying everything we can – again it was a disappointing weekend [in Barcelona].

“Short of kind of Monza and a few races, it’s generally not kind of met his or our expectations.

“I think all you can do is…hope whatever’s not kind of clicking at the moment clicks here shortly.”

Just after those comments Brown was also quoted as saying, in regard to Ricciardo’s contract, “there are mechanisms in which we are committed to each other and then there are mechanisms in which we are not”.

Ricciardo’s response to the comment about his performances was to say: “Well, it’s not false. It’s pretty true. Comments like that I don’t take personal. My skin is tanned, beautiful and also thick.”

Now, after a more encouraging display at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix where he finished just ahead of Norris, the 32-year-old has said he also took it as a kind of compliment in the sense that Brown clearly feels he is capable of more than he is producing.

Quoted by the PA news agency and speaking in his role as an ambassador for a crypto trading app, Ricciardo said: “I would be more surprised if I was coming, say, 13th and everyone is like ‘Dan’s killing it this year’.

“I know the team care about me and therefore there’s an expectation as to where I can perform and where my ability lies, so with Zak’s comment I’m well aware of how I’m doing and I take it as a roundabout way of a compliment because he also believes I can be doing better.

“I am my biggest critic and I don’t take that stuff to heart. A bit of pressure is good. It’s not something I take personally or negatively.”