‘Where’s the pace gone?’: Damon Hill claims Formula One teams will have ‘big question mark’ over Daniel Ricciardo’s speed as Australian searches for a 2023 seat after his brutal McLaren axing
- Damon Hill says there is a ‘big question mark’ over Daniel Ricciardo’s ability
- The 33-year-old was brutally axed by McLaren amid a disappointing season
- Ricciardo is searching for a 2023 seat but his options are dwindling
- Hill says teams will be questioning whether Ricciardo still has strong pace
Damon Hill believes a host of Formula One teams will harbour doubts over Daniel Ricciardo’s pace with the Australian desperate to find a seat for 2023.
The 33-year-old will part ways with McLaren at the end of the season following an underwhelming campaign with the team which has seen him clinch just four top 10 finishes.
With available seats dwindling, F1 legend Hill says ‘something’s gone wrong’ with Ricciardo – who has not ruled out taking a sabbatical away from the sport if he fails to find a viable option for 2023.
Damon Hill has highlighted the ‘big question mark’ over Daniel Ricciardo’s Formula One future
‘Danny’s been such a fantastic character for our sport, effervescent and always smiling and stuff, but something’s gone wrong,’ Hill told Sky F1.
‘Not only in his pace at McLaren, but also in his strategy for getting himself in a competitive car. Something fell through the cracks there and let’s hope he comes up smelling of roses somewhere and we see him back at the front.’
Besides a sabbatical, it has been rumoured that Ricciardo could land a reserve role next year and Mercedes have been linked.
The Australian was brutally axed by McLaren after an underwhelming 2022 campaign
Hill says potential suitors will be questioning whether Ricciardo can produce strong pace
‘I think there is some logic to that,’ Hill said. ‘If you’re at least with a top team, even if you’re in the wings and waiting for the right opportunity, you will have information that is useful to another team perhaps, potentially.
‘But every team manager would be looking at him and everyone, every team, will be looking at him and asking “where’s the pace gone? Is it coming back?” And that’s the big question mark. We don’t know.’
Elsewhere, Hill’s fellow F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve provided a brutal assessment of Ricciardo’s F1 career, saying almost half of it has been ‘terrible’ and as he questioned why any team would chase the Aussie’s signature.
When asked if he was surprised the embattled Aussie was not being picked up by a team, Villeneuve’s response was blunt.
Ricciardo may take a sabbatical or be a reserve driver if he does not find a seat for 2023
‘Why would he be?’ the 1997 world champion told F1 TV.
‘He had two terrible years at Renault and two even more terrible years at McLaren. That’s four years. Almost half of his Formula 1 career was bad.
‘Alpine have no reason to take him, especially when he’s driven there before.
‘The modern cars just don’t seem to suit his driving style.
‘He was impressive at Red Bull. He showed amazing overtaking manoeuvres. He was ahead of Max at the beginning. But in the end Max started to get a handle on him.
‘Then he switched. And after the switch something seems to have happened that he never managed to get a handle on. He never recovered from that.’
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