Jenson Button: Daniel Ricciardo to Williams would be ‘a perfect scenario’

Thomas Maher
McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo at the Dutch Grand Prix. Zandvoort, September 2022.

Jenson Button, the 2009 F1 World Champion, believes a move to Williams would be the perfect tonic for Daniel Ricciardo after leaving McLaren.

Ricciardo is yet to announce his plans for the 2023 season, after McLaren bought him out of the final year of his contract in order to bring in a new driver following Ricciardo’s struggles since joining Woking.

The Australian driver’s options are slim, with his most likely option being a return to the Alpine squad to replace departing Fernando Alonso if Alpine are unsuccessful in keeping Oscar Piastri.

Other options are to switch to Haas, to potentially replace Mick Schumacher, or to Williams to replace Nicholas Latifi.

Button, who raced for Williams in his first season of F1 in 2000, is now an advisor for the Grove-based squad and believes a link-up of Ricciardo and Williams could gel quite well – even if it might not yield immediate results for Ricciardo.

“It’s tricky when you’ve had a bad run of it,” he said during Sky F1’s coverage of the Dutch Grand Prix.

“I’m sure he doesn’t want to spend a couple of years developing a car. But Williams…well, I definitely would!

“I obviously work with Williams and I know what they have coming and what has changed over the last few years with the team.

“So it’s a really exciting prospect, working with a team in developing a car around you the way you like to drive it.

“I’m one of those people, like Daniel, that wants a car that suits my style. So it would be a perfect scenario.”

Jenson Button ponders Daniel Ricciardo’s struggles

Ricciardo claimed fifth place in opening practice at Zandvoort, slotting in behind his team-mate Lando Norris, but his time at McLaren has largely failed to meet the expectations of the team or the eight-time grand prix winner.

After a year of toil alongside Norris in 2021, aside from a victory at Monza, the 2022 regulations offered a reset for Ricciardo to brush off his troubles. However, if anything, Ricciardo has struggled even more this year and Button suspects the particular characteristics of McLaren’s designs just do not mesh well with their driver.

“It’s a change of regulations this year with the aerodynamic package of the car, mostly,” he said.

“But it’s still a McLaren. And they have a way of designing the car. I think what Daniel still struggles with is you can’t brake and turn in with the McLaren. Whereas he was very used to that previously, where you can brake and turn into a corner while still braking.

“With a McLaren, you have to brake in a straight line, off the brakes, turn in. I think he really struggles with that. Because if you’re braking and turning in, you’re gonna lock the inside front with a McLaren and slide off the circuit. So it’s just not working to his strengths and it feels like he needs to have a restart.

“We know he can be competitive. He’s a race winner and it’s not like it was 10 years ago!”