‘There’s unfinished enterprise’ – Why Daniel Ricciardo seems to be like a person on a mission forward of the French Grand Prix

Daniel Ricciardo loves his combined martial arts. And strolling into the paddock on the Circuit Paul Ricard on Thursday, the Australian had the look of a person getting into the Octagon – a steely resolve behind that ever-present smile.

Each Components 1 driver creates a certain quantity of noise in each the media and the darker recesses of the web. However the noise surrounding Ricciardo – and his future at McLaren – has been constructing as much as a cacophony of ‘UFC walkout music’ proportions in latest weeks.

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A well-publicised F1 check for IndyCar star Colton Herta; the information shortly after that Alex Palou – one other IndyCar ace – would check the 2021-spec MCL35M in some unspecified time in the future; McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown’s feedback in Could that Ricciardo’s tenure at McLaren had “not met… expectations”; the potential availability for 2023 of Ricciardo’s compatriot Oscar Piastri – all of it has set tongues wagging, stuffed up Twitter feeds and plumped column inches.

However within the weeks main as much as the French Grand Prix, Ricciardo took to his cellphone to wrench again management of the narrative – and silence the doubters.

“There have been quite a lot of [rumours] round my future in Components 1,” Ricciardo wrote on Twitter final week, at some point after Herta’s check. “However I would like you to listen to it from me. I’m dedicated to McLaren till the tip of subsequent yr and am not strolling away from the game. Respect it hasn’t at all times been simple, however who desires simple!

“I’m working my ass off with the staff to make enhancements and get the automotive proper and again to the entrance the place it belongs. I nonetheless need this greater than ever. See you in Le Castellet. Daniel”

Properly, right here he’s in Le Castellet – and the Australian has an air of defiance as he faces the media within the sweltering French warmth on Thursday afternoon.

“There’s at all times going to be rumours and noise,” he says – earlier than he’s requested if he might simply clear up any potential ambiguity round his Twitter assertion a couple of) staying with “McLaren” (the F1 staff? Their IndyCar outfit?) and b) not strolling away from “the game” (motorsport typically? Or simply F1?)…

READ MORE: Zak Brown says Ricciardo relationship has ‘by no means been higher’ as he clears up feedback on Australian’s efficiency

“Am I going to get out of [F1] or no matter? No!” he says. “It’s not what I would like, and there’s unfinished enterprise. Not solely within the sport however with the staff, with McLaren, and I wish to do it.”

He goes on: “I additionally wished to deal with – as you recognize, there’s lots of people within the manufacturing facility, all these race groups, there’s a whole bunch of folks that work from the manufacturing facility that do not come trackside and clearly do not get to see every little thing, do not get to see me on a race weekend as properly, and [see] the work I am placing in or no matter.

Daniel Ricciardo ‘not backing down’ and has ‘unfinished enterprise’ with McLaren

“So additionally for them, in the event that they’re simply studying some headlines on, like, what’s Daniel’s future, is he going to maneuver to a different staff once more – however they’re attempting to develop the automotive for me, and it is like, ‘What’s Daniel going to do?’ I simply wished to take away any doubt from them as properly. I wished to deal with them and be like, ‘Guys, I am on this with you.’ I simply wished to attract a line beneath it.

“I’m mainly not backing down from any challenges,” he concludes. “Clearly we’ve confronted just a few over the 18 months and all of that type of stuff. However merely this” – and right here you possibly can detect a shimmer of emotion ripple by Ricciardo – “I’d like to swear if I might – however these items means quite a bit to me.”

READ MORE: ‘We’re severe about anybody we put in our automotive’ – Zak Brown on Colton Herta’s Portimao check

Serving to Ricciardo in France shall be upgrades that McLaren have delivered to the MCL36 – upgrades which the Australian is likely hoping will carry the automotive extra in the direction of his fashion of pushing an F1 machine to its limits, a job he’ll be doing this weekend across the difficult 3.6-mile Circuit Paul Ricard.

The solar’s blessedly starting to sink decrease within the sky, taking some sting out of what has been a pipingly scorching day.


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McLaren have introduced upgrades to the MCL36 this weekend

However earlier than he heads off into the balmy Le Castellet night, the 2021 Italian Grand Prix winner is requested whether or not the fixed questioning from the press about his type, weekend in, weekend out, was starting to get to him.

“Look, wouldn’t it be simpler to not at all times cope with it? In all probability,” he says. “However… being on this sport now a very long time, I understand how it really works. So I do not get indignant. In fact, I take advantage of some power answering the questions, however I do not, as an example, use any pointless power.

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“As soon as this [media session] is completed now” – he dusts his arms collectively – “I’m going and transfer onto my engineering or I do no matter else I’ve to do. So it’s what it’s. On the finish of the day, if I’m going out and I win this weekend, then everybody’s like, ‘Ah, we informed you!’ So I do know that crossing the road goes to dictate the largest narrative and that is clearly what I will simply preserve working at doing the perfect.

“Clearly [the victory in] Monza, that labored for some time – after which after just a few months, it sort of went again to the way it was. [So winning this weekend would] put a band-aid on everybody for just a few months!”

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