FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

McLaren takes a gamble: F1 team makes big-money move for out-of-contract Ricciardo

FORMULA ONE: Eight races into what was billed to be its renaissance, the French Grand Prix was McLaren’s worst weekend in an already difcult season.

Formula-One
Columnist: Michael Lamonato

Friday 29 June 2018, 03:00PM


McLaren has reportedly made a big-money move for Daniel Ricciardo, the out-of-contract Red Bull Racing driver. Photo: Johannes Eisele / AFP

McLaren has reportedly made a big-money move for Daniel Ricciardo, the out-of-contract Red Bull Racing driver. Photo: Johannes Eisele / AFP

Knocked out of qualifying in 16th and 18th, Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were tootling towards the back of the field and well out of the points eight laps from the finish.

It had been an arduous week for the Woking team. Racing director Eric Boullier had been grilled by the media for the car’s poor performance, including via a UK report that McLaren staff were rallying to have him replaced.

Morale was low, so Alonso’s pit wall brought the Spaniard in for a late tyre change, switching him to the ultrasoft tyres to give him a chance to set the fastest lap of the race, a small consolation after a weekend of woe.

But as the prodigious 36-year-old prepared for maximum attack his rear-left suspension promptly broke. He limped back to his garage and retired from the race.

There could be no better analogy for McLaren’s season. The troubled McLarenHonda partnership was dissolved last year, with the team proclaiming Renault engines would allow it to demonstrate that it still has one of the best chassis on the grid, but 2018 has shown up those claims to be exaggerated at best.

Though it sits fifth in the standings thanks to a flurry of points early in the season, as its rivals have come to grips with their new cars McLaren has slipped down the order, so much so that in Canada and France it was the second-slowest machine on the grid.

It hasn’t scored in more than a month.

It’s little wonder that after four years of McLaren struggle Alonso, perhaps the best driver of his generation, is tipped to leave Formula One for America’s IndyCar series. Locked out of the championship race, Alonso’s new target is to win the nebulous motorsport “triple crown”, comprising the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix, the World Endurance Championship’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and the IndyCar Indianapolis 500.

QSI International School Phuket

Already a two-time Monaco winner and having won the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Toyota earlier this month, only Indianapolis remains.

Fortunately for Alonso, McLaren is considering a 2019 IndyCar entry, which would keep him under the team umbrella if and when the F1 squad returns to competitiveness.

Meanwhile, McLaren must prepare for a post-Alonso era. Stoffel Vandoorne, now in his second season, has not impressed in the way his junior record had suggested he would, notwithstanding he drives a difficult car for a team in turmoil alongside the most talented driver in a generation.

Waiting in the wings is 18-year-old Lando Norris, winner of a junior category every season since 2015 and currently leading the Formula Two championship, but partnering him in his rookie season with the still inexperienced Vandoorne would leave McLaren without leadership in the cockpit.

It therefore isn’t surprising that the team has reportedly made a big-money move for Daniel Ricciardo, the out-of-contract Red Bull Racing driver.

The Australian has yet to decide where he will drive in 2019. Mercedes is likely to retain Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, and though rumours suggested he had entered discussions with Ferrari earlier in the season, the Italian team now appears to be leaning towards its junior driver Charles Leclerc.

It seems unlikely that Ricciardo, one of the grid’s foremost talents, would be tempted to join one of the slowest teams on the grid regardless of the cash on offer, but with the so-called silly season to crescendo in July, we won’t have to wait long to find out.


Don’t forget to listen to Live89.5 each and every Saturday at 9am and 5pm for the Box of Neutrals radio show.

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
PM Prayut calls for tourism safety across all forms of transport

Does general Prayut not have a public relation team to keep him on right publicity track? All the ...(Read More)


Call to expedite Prawit probe

Just asking the dealers? Let me laugh. They only can be forced by court order, which the mates of Po...(Read More)


Isolated heavy rain forecast for South, Phuket

And we will see again, small boats ( like the 2 disaster boats) still will sail out. More disaster...(Read More)


Phuket officials inert as fishing boat breaks apart at tourist beach

While the pathetic marine safety officials are proving that Phuket is a dangerous and risky destinat...(Read More)


Phuket marine safety goes on show, efforts to recover last Phoenix disaster body continue

Look like Thai Ind. Standards Marine "Work Vests", the type that will not give one a clear...(Read More)


PM Prayut calls for tourism safety across all forms of transport

Another empty message, imploring Thai officials "to make sure everyone is safe". He does n...(Read More)


Phuket marine safety goes on show, efforts to recover last Phoenix disaster body continue

Re: I hope all bookings are cancelled and tourists never return here. I think it would be better i...(Read More)


Phuket marine safety goes on show, efforts to recover last Phoenix disaster body continue

The governor did put on his marine safety face, coz that day there was on Phuket no volunteer cleani...(Read More)


Phuket marine safety goes on show, efforts to recover last Phoenix disaster body continue

And it also looks like all the bright orange "life vests" are the same toy flotation aids ...(Read More)


Phuket marine safety goes on show, efforts to recover last Phoenix disaster body continue

"The government's efforts to overhaul safety measures across all forms of transport".....(Read More)