‘I’m going to end you’ – Damon Hill recalls ‘bold’ Daniel Ricciardo comment as McLaren nightmare returns

Oliver Harden
Daniel Ricciardo looks confused during his doomed McLaren career in 2022 with an inset of Ricciardo in 2024

Is it happening again? Daniel Ricciardo's poor start to the 2024 season has clear similarities to his doomed McLaren career

Daniel Ricciardo’s F1 career is in danger of “evaporating” at RB, with his early 2024 struggles reminiscent of his nightmare spell at McLaren.

That is the opinion of 1996 World Champion Damon Hill, who reckons his warning that he would “end” Lando Norris’s career has come back to bite him.

Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren threat resurfaces amid F1 2024 struggles

Ricciardo finds himself fighting for his F1 future after a desperate start to the new season, in which he has been consistently outperformed by RB team-mate Yuki Tsunoda.

Reports last week indicated Red Bull’s junior team could seek to replace Ricciardo ahead of next month’s Miami Grand Prix, but PlanetF1.com understands suggestions that the Australian is in immediate danger of losing his seat are premature.

Ricciardo’s struggles with RB came after he was dropped by McLaren at the end of the 2022 season after two seasons of lagging behind Norris, despite claiming the team’s first victory in nine years at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.

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Appearing on the F1 Nation podcast, Hill recalled Ricciardo interrupting Norris during a Sky F1 interview at the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix to warn his future team-mate that he was going to finish his career at McLaren.

Asked about Ricciardo’s current struggles, he said: “It’s reminiscent of what happened when he went to McLaren.

“I remember – I think it was at Imola, doing some stuff with Sky – we were interviewing Lando.

“The news had come that he was going to be driving for McLaren alongside Lando and he walked past, went up to him and said in a kind of jokey way: ‘I’m going to end you.’

“I remember thinking: ‘Ouch, that was a bit of a bold comment’ – and it [turned out to be] the other way around.

“He never felt comfortable in McLaren – he was hunting all the time for setup – and the same story is coming out now from the RB. There’s only so many times you can do that.”

Hill fears Ricciardo has become a “fussy” driver when it comes to his requirements from his car, likening his situation to Sebastian Vettel after F1’s 2014 regulations marked the end of the blown-diffuser era.

He explained: “Maybe he’s one of these drivers who’s matured too quickly and you get to the point where you become fussy about how you like your car.

“When they’re very young, they don’t ask the question. Look at Ollie Bearman [in Saudi Arabia] – they get one go, they don’t know anything else, they just drive.

“Once you’ve had lots of experience, sometimes the experience overwrites everything else and you’re looking for that good experience again, in the setup and a feeling from a car, when it’s not going to come because it’s a different car.

“Someone like Yuki has been told: ‘You’ve got to drive it, this is what it is.’ He’s just getting on with it and Daniel’s looking for something else.

“It happened with Sebastian Vettel as well. Once he lost the blown diffuser, suddenly it was more difficult for him to drive. Some drivers have a style and they need a setup, they need a kind of car, but you can’t get it.

“The question is: do the greats just get on with it and adapt? Would someone like [Ayrton] Senna care how the car handled or would he just overcome it, overpower it? I think the latter is true.

“At some point you have to say to Daniel: ‘Listen, your career is about to evaporate, you just have to get over it and just drive this damn thing and not look for perfection. You’re never going find it. It’s not coming. Alright? You’re going to have to find a way to drive this thing and wring its neck, because you’re getting beaten by Tsunoda.’

“It’s a bit sad for us to interpret this as being Daniel’s lost form [when] Yuki has gained form. He’s definitely driving brilliantly, he’s driving very well.

“It’s a little bit unfair to to diminish Yuki’s performance because we assume Daniel should be beating him.

“I think Tsunoda has moved on leaps and bounds.”

Hill’s fellow pundit, the AS reporter Jesus Balseiro, believes Ricciardo is no longer a realistic candidate to replace Sergio Perez at Red Bull, having made no secret of his desire to reclaim his former seat alongside Max Verstappen in 2025.

And he fears Ricciardo is in for yet another challenging weekend at Tsunoda’s home race at Suzuka, where the 34-year-old will be replaced by Ayumu Iwasa for the opening practice session.

Balseiro said: “Missing FP1 will not help, definitely, and you’re competing against the local hero there.

“We have a free Red Bull seat available for next year and Daniel was the favourite last year when he came back and did that amazing test with the RB19.

“And suddenly, you wouldn’t even think about him being part of the family in Red Bull, you wouldn’t even think about him as a candidate for next year’s Red Bull against Checo. That says something.

“Maybe Formula 1 is going in another direction and maybe Daniel is not following that trend, I don’t know.

“Maybe a younger driver comes in, we will see.

“If he gets less free practice at Suzuka and he doesn’t get over this fight against his team-mate, it may be complicated during this first leg of the season.”

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