F1 driver turned analyst Johnny Herbert has pondered why Daniel Ricciardo has been struggling ever since his move to McLaren.
After two years at Renault, Daniel Ricciardo’s time at the French team can be described as lacklustre. The Aussie driver made a move to McLaren, partnering up with the young British sensation Lando Norris.
Unfortunately for Ricciardo, his year in the Papaya car has been off to a rocky start. The main hurdle which has proven difficult to overcome for the ‘last of the late brakers’ is the MCL35M’s braking system.
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Ricciardo, now 32, is 50 points behind his teammate and sits in Eight in the Driver’s Championship tally. Although his form did seem to take a turn in Monza when he won the race, that triumph can be seen as the one high in a season of mostly lows.
“Daniel has been a shocker,” Herbert said to Motorsport Magazine. “We never expected him to struggle so much.” The driver who raced in Formula One for 12 years continued.
“I can empathise with him and it’s terrible, especially when it’s been so long and you still haven’t found the answer. Still, we know how good he is and he knows it too.”
Trying to understand what could be the root of the problem, Herbert speculated further. “I’ve heard Daniel’s problems are brake-related, but it’s also down to aerodynamics,” he added.
McLaren is very dependent on its rear and not as strong on the front end. It renders the Aussie unable to brake late as the car is unable to support his way of driving and the main brakes are on the car’s front end.
“If it’s already causing us headaches, think what it’s like for him,” Herbert empathised. “He’s not too old, he hasn’t had a bad crash. There have been plenty of drivers for whom it (their talent) just evaporated.”
This isn’t the first time such a situation has arose
The analyst recalled a similar situation that did occur with a driver with whom he was familiar. “I go back to Jean (Alesi). He was the ‘next big thing’ and yet he only won one Grand Prix. It didn’t work for him, with all his natural talent.”
Although Ricciardo has won quite a few more races than Jean Alesi, the mental psyche was something the former F1 driver could compare between the two.
“The problem is that if it doesn’t get better, the rumours start, and once that starts and the tornado accelerates, you’re just a passenger. Daniel Ricciardo will have many more chances to prove his mettle. The next one would be at the US GP in Texas this coming Sunday.