On Wednesday 24 August, McLaren and Daniel Ricciardo announced that their paths will separate at the end of the current Formula 1 season. The two parties decided to part on a friendly basis after the team made it known that they no longer wanted to continue with the Australian.
Speaking to a small group of media, including RacingNews365.com, Team Principal Andreas Seidl and CEO Zak Brown explained the decision to stop working with Ricciardo at the end of the year.
Seidl admits that the parternship did not yield the results that they had hoped for.
"That's why we had a lot of discussions [in] the last month, Zak and myself together with Daniel," Seidl explained.
"But in the end, we have to acknowledge we didn't make it work together, despite all the commitment, which was there from Daniel's side, from the team's side, despite all the effort we all had put in.
"That's why we came to the decision that we wanted to make a change for next year, and we mutually agreed with Daniel that we [will] terminate the contract early at the end of this year."
Despite the relationship coming to an early end, Seidl is convinced that Ricciardo will still give his all during his final nine races with McLaren.
"It's clearly not the outcome that we were all looking for, but at the same time, it's important now to switch our focus towards the next nine races together, and give it all again as a team," he added.
"Daniel will do the same, and [we'll] try to finish our relationship on a high, which will be important because we are in a close battle with Alpine, and we definitely want to get back into P4 in the Constructors' Championship."
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No Piastri yet
It is an open secret that Oscar Piastri is set to be Ricciardo's successor, but at the moment McLaren are not making any statements about that, even when Brown was asked about the future of the seat. His current focus is on dealing with the news surrounding Ricciardo and the upcoming Belgian Grand Prix.
"We're obviously very confident in our future, which we'll announce in due course," Brown said.
"We want to go racing this weekend, so we felt it was important to make the announcement today. It's a very amicable and friendly relationship with Daniel.
"Obviously [it's] disappointing for it to come to an end in this manner, but [we can] reflect back upon things like Monza [where Ricciardo led a 1-2 finish for McLaren in 2021], which is my personal most exciting moment in my time here at McLaren.
"[It's a] disappointing outcome, but we're excited for the balance of the year, as is Daniel, and we'll be announcing our future in due course."
Did McLaren act nicely?
When RacingNews365.com revealed in early August that McLaren had already recruited Oscar Piastri behind the scenes – after Ricciardo was told he would have to abandon ship – the McLaren team faced criticism from some for the way they treated their driver.
Seidl does not agree with that criticism, and says that a lot of time was put into getting the relationship with Ricciardo working, as well as stating that the team had been consistently transparent in the process.
"I think it's very important to say that, from my point of view, from the team's side there was a huge commitment and a lot of effort [that] went in to make this work. The same happened from Daniel's side," Seidl commented.
"The most important thing for me – and [this is] how we always work together with our colleagues or employees, but also with our race drivers – is that you have an open and honest and transparent dialogue internally between each other, which we always had."
Brown admits that he did not see it coming that Ricciardo would underperform, but feels that McLaren have handled the situation in a decent way.
"I think it is fair to say that we're all surprised it didn't deliver more results and more Monza-like performances," he stated.
"Clearly he's got a fantastic CV, and came into us as a seven-time Grand Prix winner, and leaves us as an eight-time Grand Prix winner, with nine races to go. Who knows what happens later this year? Hopefully he'll find his form in a new environment."
Brown added: "What's most important to us is that we know we've handled things transparently, honestly and have done right [in] how we managed the situation with Daniel.
"I think in today's world, we've seen with the various campaigns and all the activity around social media that, unfortunately, some fans – fortunately not most – are quite abusive on social media. I think all you can do is ignore it. You don't have to like it.
"But those that choose to hate are really not the types of fans that you want in sport. Certainly, people are entitled to their opinions, and certainly [I] don't mind the cheering and booing that you get in sports, but some people do take it way too far.
"I think all you can do is ignore that, and be grounded in [feeling that] we're doing the right things for McLaren, our partners, our employees, our McLaren fans, and kind of block out those people that are abusive on social media."
McLaren reflect on "shared responsibility" of situation
Despite the impending split, there is still a lot of mutual respect between McLaren and Ricciardo, with Seidl admitting that there is a "shared responsibility" for things not working out.
"I think Formula 1 never stands still and, when I look back now to these 18 months, it was not like Daniel needed something completely different than Lando [Norris] from the car," Seidl explained.
"Actually, both were quite aligned regarding the weaknesses of the car, and I want to make it clear as well that, in the time we spent so far together with Daniel and [the time] we still have, we appreciate everything he brought to the team, with all his positivity, with all his experience.
"It helped us to make the next step as a team, and he was always great [on] the days where he didn't get the car from us that he deserved to have, he would always stay positive and help to keep pushing the team forward.
"We haven't forgotten, for example, the difficult start we had to the season this year.
"It hasn't changed anything in terms of the respect I personally also have for him. It's just the fact that unfortunately we didn't make make it work here at McLaren together.
"In the end, it's a team effort between team and the driver, and I guess that's how I also see it. It's a shared responsibility for unfortunately not getting it to work."
It is a disappointing situation for Ricciardo, but because his contract ran until 2023, he will receive a nice amount of money from the McLaren team at the end of this season.
Unsurprisingly, CEO Brown didn't want to give many details about that.
"You'll see a reoccurring theme that we're not going to get into any contractual details, other than that we came to a very amicable and agreeable solution," Brown said.
RacingNews365.com has learned from sources in Australia that the driver will receive a considerable amount of money from the team from Woking. That amount will be around the basic salary that Ricciardo would have had next year. This would be the amount without any bonuses gained for World Championship points and such.
However, there is a chance that Ricciardo will get less money from McLaren if he manages to score another seat in Formula 1 next year. If he then gets millions in salary again, McLaren will probably give less 'compensation'.
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