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Monaco Grand Prix 2022

Dieter's Diary: Speculation mounts over Ricciardo and McLaren

In his latest diary from the Monaco Grand Prix, RacingNews365.com Editorial Director Dieter Rencken gives the inside line on the latest driver market rumours.

Ricciardo Monaco
Column
To news overview © RN365/Michael Potts

Saturday

With the roads used for the circuit closed from 06:30, I face some detours, but after around 90 years of motor racing in the Principality – the first Grand Prix was held in 1929, 21 years before the birth of Formula 1 – the promoters have plenty of experience in such matters, and any holds up are minimised. Being Saturday, there is little or no commuter traffic, which is a bonus.

Once parked up and in the media centre, I prepare for the 10:00 team boss conference, where the hot topic proves to be the inflationary effects of the post-Covid period and Russia/Ukraine conflict on team budget cap.

I throw a spanner in the works by asking about allowances or caps on driver and key personnel salaries – effectively the lower their stipends, the more teams have to spend on development.

Ferrari's Mattia Binotto admits the matter is under discussion, and there are a few light-hearted moments when I ask team bosses whether they'd be happy to trade their salaries for a few more hours of wind tunnel time…

			© RN365/Michael Potts
	© RN365/Michael Potts

Ricciardo's future under the microscope

Also under the microscope is the future of Daniel Ricciardo, who has consistently underperformed since he left Red Bull at end-2019, having previously run Max Verstappen close enough for the duo to have had numerous 'moments' whilst in the team.

Team boss Andreas Seidl (and the driver on Thursday) talk of a three-year deal ending next year, but I don’t believe there aren't any performance clauses in the contract.

After the conference I grab a tabard to go trackside for FP3 – the best perk of the job is the stretch from Rascasse past the swimming pool and harbour chicane and into the tunnel.

This patch showcases F1 at its absolute best by combining everything in a single kilometre: 300km/h top speeds, brutal acceleration, tip-toe braking, inch-perfect precision and finger-tip car control set against fairy tale backdrops with a palace on the hill.

Trackside observations at Monaco

The echoes, heat, noises, vibrations and ferocity of cars blasting through the tunnel simply cannot be described adequately, being a pure sensory overload with little time to take it all in before the next projectile flashes by.

Intriguingly, despite the same basic power unit specifications – 90° 1600cc V6 turbo engines with heat recovery units – each of the four makes produces unique sounds, regardless of which chassis it's fitted to.

Thus, after a few laps one can distinguish Ferrari- or Mercedes-powered chassis from a Honda-powered Red Bull or AlphaTauri, or an Alpine with Renault horsepower. Their vibrations are totally different, too, as is the subsequent ringing in the ears…

On the way back to the media centre I pop in at the Red Bull Energy Station and bump into Mark Stewart, son of Sir Jackie and award-winning movie producer. He tells me his latest production, a biopic focusing on his father's three world title seasons – 1969/71/73 – is finished and ready for global distribution.

Footage is already available on Instagram, and a trailer should soon be flighted on Youtube – so keep eyes peeled.

Media time with Hamilton and McLaren

Post-qualifying, it's time for scheduled media sessions, and I note that Lewis Hamilton is remarkably relaxed about again being shaded by George Russell.

I ask whether he would prefer the team to switch focus to the 2023 car given that their title challenge is effectively over.

"We need to work out what's wrong with this one first," he says laconically. "There’s things with this car I don’t want next year…"

The final session is at McLaren, where Daniel and Andreas are put under pressure by the media – I put it to the team boss that it is surely unusual to not have break or performance clauses in a driver contract, and he says they won't discuss specifics.

No denial, then – when it would have been easy to state there aren't any. This seems set to run, with the word being that McLaren and Alpine are in talks to release Oscar Piastri…

Also interesting:

F1 Podcast: Did off-track matters ruin the spectacle at the Spanish GP?

RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken and Michael Butterworth discuss the Spanish Grand Prix, where Max Verstappen won a thrilling race after Charles Leclerc retired. But was the on-track action soured by a poor fan experience at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya?

F1 2022 Monaco Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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