Daniel Ricciardo reality exposed in telling McLaren admission

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Daniel Ricciardo's future at McLaren continues to be thrust into the spotlight after a disappointing 2022. Pic: Getty
Daniel Ricciardo's future at McLaren continues to be thrust into the spotlight after a disappointing 2022. Pic: Getty

Daniel Ricciardo can't seem to outrun the speculation about his Formula One future, with new comments from the Aussie driver's boss at McLaren further stoking the flames.

The spotlight has been on Ricciardo since his move to McLaren last year, having been significantly outpaced by young teammate Lando Norris in 2022.

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The previous race at the Austrian GP was just the Aussie's third points finish of the season, with speculation continuing to swirl about his future with the team.

Ricciardo is only 18 months into a three-year contract with McLaren, but sitting 12th in the drivers’ standings after grabbing 17 points from 11 races, he's well behind seventh-placed teammate Norris on 64 points.

The Aussie insisted earlier this month that he had no plans to leave McLaren, but team boss Zak Brown's latest remarks about a number of young IndyCar prospects will no doubt leave the 33-year-old a little nervous.

McLaren have recently added reigning IndyCar champion Alex Palou to their roster, with the young Spaniard's rivals Pato O'Ward and Colton Herta also on the F1 team's radar.

While Herta is not part of the McLaren set-up, reports have suggested that he is a leading candidate to potentially replace Ricciardo when the time comes.

Herta impressed McLaren during a recent two-day test with the team and his American heritage could help the F1 team tap into a lucrative market.

Seen here, American IndyCar driver Colton Herta after a race.
American IndyCar driver Colton Herta has made no secret of his interest in making the switch to F1. Pic: Getty

While McLaren's boss says the team would not sign a driver because of their nationality, he did little to dampen speculation about making a play for Herta.

"We are very serious about anyone we put in our Formula 1 car,” Brown told the F1 Nation podcast.

“The fact he’s American is great, but we lead with performance.

“Nationality is on the list, but we would never select a driver for commercial reasons first.

“The first gate to get through is do we think this driver is World Champion, grand prix-winning capable? And if the answer to that is yes, we continue to proceed.

“If they happen to be British, because we are a British team, or American, because that’s an important market, or from Asia, because that’s an important market, it’s kind of a commercial bonus.

“But first and foremost, we are here to win races – that’s what our sponsor partners want. And yes, he’s (Herta) been very impressive in IndyCar.

“He was Lando [Norris’s] team-mate not long ago in Europe, so he has European racing background, so [our thinking is] let’s give him a go and see what he’s made of.”

IndyCar ace Colton Herta keen on F1 switch

Herta has made no secret of his interest in swapping IndyCar for Formula 1, adding even further intrigue to the McLaren situation.

“You can’t say no to that question or else you wouldn’t be a professional driver! I think I’m fast enough," Herta said after his McLaren test.

“Whether people agree or not, only time will tell. Hopefully I get some more chances in the car and that can kind of show.”

McLaren have clarified their intentions for Ricciardo multiple times this season after his early struggles prompted speculation the ambitious British outfit might move on from the 33-year-old.

Brown said earlier in the season that Ricciardo had failed to live up to expectations. He later clarified the comments to say his relationship with the Australian "has never been better".

Ricciardo also took to social media earlier this month to quash speculation about his future.

"There have been a lot of rumours around my future in Formula One, but I want you to hear it from me," Ricciardo wrote on Twitter and Instagram.

"I am committed to McLaren until the end of next year and am not walking away from the sport.

"Appreciate it hasn't always been easy, but who wants easy! I'm working my ass off with the team to make improvements and get the car right and back to the front where it belongs. I still want this more than ever. See you in Le Castellet."

with agencies

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