Joining new teams and then leaving old teams! Something that’s an ever constant in Formula 1. Something that actually happens all the time in the sport’s top flight. When in mid- 2019, a time where the world knew not a thing about the COVID 19 pandemic, there came news about the door being shut on Sebastian Vettel, it led to massive talk.
Rumors and rumors and yet more rumours. It was as if making permutations and combinations, all imaginary though, was the only thing left to motorsport watchers or F1 bloggers. Then, soon after a few months, there came the news of Daniel Ricciardo leaving Renault. The Vettel piece of news in the pre COVID era shifted to news about Ricciardo in the time of the pandemic. Many cited multiple reasons for it.
The Honeybadger of Formula 1 was no longer happy about what was going on in Renault that soon-changed-to-Alpine. Then there were talks that Cyril Abiteboul was himself not sure of the team and his own place in the sun at the famous French constructor and hence, Daniel Ricciardo having no option to leave.
What we did know, however, was that the Australian driver known for his famous smile, something that still hasn’t cheated on him, was McLaren bound due to an absolute loss of confidence with Renault, now popularly known as Alpine.
Speaking rather imaginatively, imagining an Alpine line up with Fernando Alonso, fresh from his 98th career podium and F1’s Honeybadger, would’ve surely given us all a dream line up. But since when as the sport been left to work its way through the pre-supposed or the imagined?
What we have today are two fantastic drivers, each in Alpine and McLaren. While young Lando Norris and the experienced Daniel Ricciardo are both doing their bit to consolidate McLaren’s position as among the true greats of the grid (much like the nineties’ heydays), Alpine is benefitting big time from the talent and skill of Esteban Ocon, already a race winner in 2021 and the tireless evergreen racer Fernando Alonso.
Yet, a question remains. Yet, one needs to know exactly why the Perth-born F1 driver left Alpine, previously Renault! And believe it or not, but Alain Prost “the Professor of F1” has found some answers:
“He was a little bit afraid by the project, for sure,” shared the legendary Frenchman, who’d add, in the words of Essentially Sports more on the journey of the now-with-McLaren F1 driver:
The four-time F1 world champion revealed that regardless of how things shaped up between Ricciardo and Renault, he’s glad for the driver. At least he’s happy, he’s in a good team.”
The above told, one of the more surprising words that have ever been used in the context of Daniel Ricciardo is ‘afraid.”
While surely Alain Prost, ever the astute observer of the grid and its wild and fast creatures did not mean it like that, his statement does point to whether things were unsettled at Renault in the sense that the sort of uncertainty about the future and what might it hold may have played a role in Daniel Ricciardo’s exit. Right?
That being said, all that’s well, end’s well. That Ricciardo was found struggling in comparison to teammate Lando Norris is well established but that it was also Daniel Ricciardo- not young Lando- who earned McLaren their much-anticipated win in 2021, also speaks volumes about the Honeybadger’s craft. He was right when he actually said that “I never left, “ in the aftermath of his heroic win at Monza, home to the Italian GP. Beating Verstappen would surely not have come any easy, did it Mr. Daniel Ricciardo?