Four-time world champion Alain Prost was admittedly taken by surprise by the struggles Daniel Ricciardo has faced in his first season with McLaren.
Prost worked with Daniel Ricciardo for two seasons, in 2019 and 2020, when the latter was part of the Renault F1 team. Now in McLaren, Ricciardo has struggled to keep up with his young teammate Lando Norris. Expectations from the Australian were quite the opposite.
Prost expressed his views on the former Renault driver’s season with McLaren and how they do not meet the expectations he had in place for the Honey Badger.
“I’m surprised,” said Prost to The Fast Lane podcast.
“I was expecting him to be much better, much quicker in the McLaren, compared to Lando.
“But that also means [that there could be] the different ambience in the team, another way of setting up the car that could suit a driver and a little bit less another one.
“It’s a normal part of the life of a racing driver.”
Prost understands why Daniel Ricciardo left Renault
The French former driver pulled back the curtain on his relationship with Ricciardo. Prost enjoyed working with him in Renault. He also felt that it was the ‘project’ that ultimately caused him to move to McLaren at the end of the 2020 season.
“I’m very close to the drivers, as you can imagine being an old racing driver,” Prost explained. “And with Daniel it was a big connection. The results were not really what you could accept, even if he had a good end of the season with podiums.
“But he was fantastic for the team. The ambience and the way [he worked], never complaining, and he was unequivocal, excellent.
anyways don’t let all the chaos in the timeline distract you from the fact that daniel ricciardo and lando norris were definetely the cutest bros today 🧡🥺 pic.twitter.com/gzpjwAzDQy
— ece (@ricciardopics) November 13, 2021
“The second part is he was a little bit afraid by the project, for sure. We had to manage to keep the same engine, and that means almost no changes to [the] chassis, or very little. At Mercedes they were changing the engine.
“We know that we [have a] deficit with the Mercedes engine. So it was more the project, rather than the ambience or whatever.”
The chase for a championship
Following a shock move from Red Bull at the end of 2018, Daniel Ricciardo saddled up with the Renault team for the next two seasons. Then after those two years, Ricciardo moved to McLaren.
Prost believes that it may not always be the easiest job to make the right career choices for a driver. The Frenchman can understand why Ricciardo has changed as many teams recently as he has.
“I read a lot about Daniel, stories about Red Bull and Renault and then McLaren and [them saying that] he’s not going to be World Champion or whatever,” the Frenchman said.
“It’s always difficult in a career to make a good choice. We need to have the chance. “It was difficult for him, but at least he’s happy. He’s in a good team.”