The true tale of Daniel Ricciardo’s sad departure from McLaren and his subsequent hunt for a race seat for 2023 is being fleshed out as the Netflix Drive to Survive (DTS) series is filling in some of the blanks.
Following the announcement by McLaren that Ricciardo’s contract had been terminated a year early, the DTS camera’s picked up an interesting little cameo in the paddock.
Renault boss calls out Zak Brown
Ricciardo’s former boss when he drove for Renault (2019-20) before joining McLaren was filmed whispering to Ricciardo, “I told you not to trust Zak” after the news was confirmed.
Yet Cyril Abiteboul at the time was also upset by Ricciardo’s decision to leave the French outfit for McLaren as was recorded in series 3 of DTS.
“Every single one of us at Renault, our focus is on the stability of the team,” he said.
“Pure focus on this season’s performance. We need to be in a position for podiums and then fight for wins and then fight for championships – but Daniel has put a stop to all of that.
“What’s hurting the most is it’s not the long-term project I thought we signed up for.”
Brown worked hard on a seat for Ricciardo
It appears Zak Brown went to great lengths to find Ricciardo a drive even suggesting to Alpine they take Daniel in return for their junior driver Oscar Piastri.
Of course McLaren already had Piastri signed in a deal unbeknown to Alpine
A private meeting between the CEO of Alpine, Laurent Rossi, and Zak Brown was filmed by DTS.
Brown: “I feel like I can help. Let’s close this thing out.”
Rossi: “We have Nico Hulkneberg, Mick Schumacher, Pierre Gasly…”
Brown: “Daniel? I’d love to see him stay in the sport.”
Rossi: “Maybe we’ll give him a chance.”
Renault boss snubs Ricciardo return
Ultimately Rossi snubbed Ricciardo’s offer to return to the French owned team. Its likely feelings still ran deep within the Renault organisation over Daniel’s decision 2 years earlier to leave them for McLaren.
Having then lost Piastri to McLaren. Clearly the Alpine CEO felt co-operating with the enemy was not an option.
Brown shrugs off the situation noting of Alpine’s team principal Otmar Szafnaeur, “he has been caught with his pants down. If I were him, I’d be very embarrassed.”
When the FIA contracts recognition board announced Piastri was free to join McLaren, Szafnaeur is filmed saying, “I hate losing, it is painful for me.”
Of course Alpine eventually recruited Pierre Gasly, Mick Schumacher was benched by Haas and appointed as a reserve driver for Mercedes – and Nico Hulkneberg replaced Schumacher at Haas.