Daniel Ricciardo appears happy in his new role at Red Bull Racing since his Formula one career took a turn for the worse. McLaren felt Ricciardo was never going to turn the corner and scoring a rookie level of points when compared to his team mate Lando Norris.
In the end Zak Brown and the Woking team decided whatever the cost it was time for Ricciardo to leave.
The cost to McLaren was not insignificant as they had to cough up around $12m to force Ricciardo out of his final year of contract although this payoff may prove to be the reason Ricciardo is not on the grid this season.
Ricciardo rumoured to have F1 options
The Aussie racer is now a brand ambassador for Red Bull together with being the reserve test driver for the F1 team. Yet the narrative Ricciardo has repeated of “taking time out” this season means Ricciardo will attend less than 10 Formula One grand prix weekends as he tries to revive his love for the sport.
It was rumoured Ricciardo had options to drive this year for teams further back on the grid. Both Williams and Haas F1 were believed to have sent an invitation to talk through Daniel’s agent.
The replacement of young Mick Schumacher with Nico Hulkenberg, who hasn’t raced full time in F1 for 2 whole seasons, proved the likes of Haas F1 wanted an experienced driver like Ricciardo.
Red Bull Racing may replace Perez
One scenario for Ricciardo turning down a drive at Haas was due to the deteriorating relationship between Verstappen and Sergio Perez opened a door for his return to Red Bull.
Perez had made it public before the Mexican GP he would hope his team mate would help him win his home race now the drivers’ championship was won.
Verstappen made it very clear over the pit radio in Brazil that these kind of requests should not be made and that he had “given his decision last time” [in Mexico] on the matter.
Checo’s two year contract conditional
Perez then derided his team mate’s character over the pit radio stating Max refusal to let him pass “showed what kind of person he is.”
Checo is believed to have a new two year contract extension starting in 2023, though it may well be a one year deal with an opportunity of rat elates to extend to two years, so any kind of immediate return to the Red Bull F1 race car for Verstappen is clearly not on the cards.
Another scenario is that had Ricciardo had taken another race seat this year, McLaren’s payout would have been mitigated. Whether the Aussie wants them to feel the pain of the cheque they had to write or not, only he will know.
Ricciardo offered to drive for Haas F1
The upcoming series of Netflix, “Drive to Survive” will reveal Ricciardo was in fact prepared to drive for Haas F1 this season.
One of the episodes will show a fly on the wall conversation between Haas boss Gunther Steiner and lead driver Kevin Magnussen. They are discussing the replacement for Mick Schumacher.
Magnussen suggests, “Ricciardo?”
“We can’t afford it, Kevin. He wants ten f***ing million. Minimum.” Steiner retorts.
McLaren severance agreement got in the way
Depending on the terms of the McLaren severance agreement, it could be Ricciardo needed Haas to pay £10m to compensate him for the loss of McLaren money he’d suffer when taking another F1 racing role.
Which is why the apparently unreasonable demand of “10 million” was made.
So Ricciardo failing to agree a driver with either Williams or Haas F1 cold have been nothing to do with the fact they were “beneath” him in some way, just that they couldn’t afford to match his McLaren payoff which forced Daniel to take a year out or lose substantial amounts of money.