Ricciardo Needs to ‘Play Political Games’ to Salvage McLaren Form: Villeneuve

Published 05/24/2021, 7:14 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo during the press conference FIA/Handout via REUTERS


Daniel Ricciardo has had a rather underwhelming start to his life as a McLaren driver. The Australian’s recruitment promised a lot, and he was coming off the back of an impressive campaign with Renault. But five races into 2021, the man from down under is yet to find his groove. His younger and more inexperienced teammate Lando Norris has thoroughly outclassed him.

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How can he turn his season around? Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve gives him some tips.

The situation Ricciardo finds himself in is a tough one. At the moment, with Norris’ performances, the team seems centered around him. Villeneuve believes it’ll be key for Daniel to get the authority back at McLaren, and to do that he must start playing mind games to psychologically hurt Lando.

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Villeneuve said, “You have to work hard inside the team, with the engineers, trying to get some changes made to the car to help you but also damage your teammate. That’s the key of the game.

“It’s awful, but you have to start playing the political game inside of the team when it’s like this. He’s too far from Lando right now.”

Ricciardo has struggled to adapt to the McLaren car and has been vocal about how the MCL35-M doesn’t suit his driving style. However, that being said, he had a stinker of a race at Monaco.

Daniel Ricciardo will want to forget the Monaco GP as soon as possible

The ex-Red Bull star had an embarrassing Q2 exit in qualifying, starting the race in P12, whereas Norris started off in P5. As is usually the case in Monaco, where it is difficult to make up ground – thanks to the narrow nature of the track, Ricciardo was stuck behind Kimi Raikkonen for most of the race.

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Formula One F1. Monaco Grand Prix. Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo, Monaco. McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo during practice REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

On pace, he probably deserved to end up in the top 10. However, with opportunities to overtake incredibly limited, Daniel had to settle for a P12 finish. But what made the race even more embarrassing was the fact that Norris lapped him and went on to finish on the podium.

Ricciardo has had some very memorable races at this iconic venue, not least a victory in 2018. But this race was surely one to forget for the McLaren man for whom the race in Baku can’t come soon enough.

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Ronan Carvalho

1063 articles

Ronan Carvalho is senior F1 author for Essentiallysports. Ronan is currently pursuing his Journalism degree from St. Xavier's College.

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