Spicy gossips circulating in the paddock, regarding the driver-market-related situation at McLaren: Lots of signings, possible unsignings, moves and more. Let's have a look at everything that's happened over the last few days.
It's no secret that McLaren isn't very happy with Daniel Ricciardo's performance this year, whose current race result average stands at 11.7, when Lando Norris’s average stands at 8.1 so far.
Ricciardo has issued a statement this morning, regarding his future with McLaren, saying he isn’t planning on leaving before his contract runs out, and that he’s working with the team to get the best results possible:
The Aussie’s contract doesn’t expire before the end of 2023, so theoretically, there is no point in talking about the Australian’s seat. However, a clause in his contract suggests that he could break it at any point, without any consequences. The opposite doesn’t apply, as the team would have to compensate Ricciardo and pay up lots of millions, which is obviously something that the British team would want to avoid.
It’s never pleasant for a driver to not perform as well as he would like to. So, the question is, how fed up is Ricciardo with his performance, and who is most likely to replace him if he decides to leave?
First up, the obvious candidate, Oscar Piastri: The Aussie is rumoured to join Williams, replacing Nicholas Latifi, but would a seat open up at McLaren, I doubt he’d miss the opportunity to dress in orange.
Colton Herta also has strong ties with McLaren and has been rumored to be in line for Ricciardo’s seat. He tested last year’s McLaren car, the MCL35M under the TPC [testing previous car] rules, running 162 laps of the 2.891-mile Autodromo Internacional do Algarve across two days this week.
Meanwhile, news broke late last night, as McLaren also welcomed IndyCar champion Alex Palou to their driver roster from 2023, but it’s still unknown, which series Palou will race in. The announcement caused controversy, as Palou was initially announced by Chip Ganassi Racing, in a press release they issued yesterday, with Palou tweeting an explanation, saying that he never approved of this announcement.
Of course, Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist could easily be two excellent seat candidates, with the pair currently competing for McLaren in IndyCar.
According to BBC, McLaren are also exploring their options beyond their already-signed drivers, having shown interest in Sebastian Vettel and Alexander Albon.