McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown confirmed that an offer was made for Daniel Ricciardo to remain with the outfit in IndyCar.
After an underwhelming season and a half in McLaren colours for Ricciardo, it has now been confirmed that team and driver will go their separate ways come the end of 2022.
Despite the highlight of victory for Ricciardo at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, such highs have been rare, meaning confirmation of the split, which was rumoured to have been coming, did not take many by surprise.
McLaren have described it as a mutual decision, though Ricciardo’s “the team has decided to make a change” line would suggest that the choice was not in his hands.
In his statement after the Ricciardo news broke, Brown said that it was “no secret that we hoped we could achieve more together“.
And the McLaren Racing boss has now confirmed that a drive in the IndyCar series was put forward to Ricciardo in a move that would keep him in the McLaren fold, though Brown believes that Ricciardo’s current focus is on staying on the Formula 1 grid.
Asked by GPFans if IndyCar had been made an option for Ricciardo, Brown replied: “Yes, we spoke about that. He’s an exceptional racing driver and any team that he drives for, it’s a privilege to have Daniel drive for you and we do have a variety of racing activities.
“That being said, he’s very focussed on Formula 1. Of course, the door will always be open here at McLaren, but I believe he has a real desire to continue in Formula 1.
“We’ll leave it at that and let him comment when he speaks to his future activities.”
Daniel Ricciardo is right to keep his focus on Formula 1
While Ricciardo’s time at McLaren certainly has not gone the way either he or the team would have hoped for, it would be hard to believe that the eight-time race winner has declined to a stage where he can no longer offer anything worthwhile to a Formula 1 team.
Ricciardo, and team-mate Lando Norris too, have spoken about the McLaren car not matching up to their respective driving style as they hoped, but clearly Norris, who has been in McLaren’s line-up since 2019, is able to adapt to this more effectively than his more experienced team-mate.
Alex Albon, albeit less experienced than Ricciardo, serves as an example of a driver who went from being dominated at Red Bull by Max Verstappen, to now establishing himself in Formula 1 once more with a strong season at Williams. So, not all hope is lost for Ricciardo.
The Aussie recently referenced an example to demonstrate that another door could open, citing how Sergio Perez was seemingly off the Formula 1 grid at the end of 2020 until Red Bull snapped him up to replace Albon.
Alpine, Haas and Williams all represent potential options for Ricciardo if he is to stay in Formula 1, so he is right to stay focused on the series despite this disappointing end to his time at McLaren.