Despite reports linking several IndyCar drivers to his McLaren seat, Andreas Seidl has hinted McLaren want a long-term future with Daniel Ricciardo – one that could run into 2024.
McLaren are expected to put Colton Herta in their car later this season for an FP1 run, the Woking team giving the American a trial that has pundits suggesting a Formula 1 drive could be in his future.
There is also Pato O’Ward waiting in the wings, the Mexican having tested the MCL35M at last season’s end-of-season outing in Abu Dhabi.
With both said to be options for McLaren, the Woking team will have to make a choice down the line – continue with Ricciardo or put a rookie in the car alongside Lando Norris.
While Norris’ seat is guaranteed, the Briton having signed until the end of the 2025 season, Ricciardo’s is not.
He has struggled to match Norris’ form, the Australian having scored 11 points to his team-mate’s 35, and there have been whispers it is just a matter of time before McLaren change their line-up.
Seidl, though, has hinted he wants to keep Ricciardo around beyond his current three-year deal.
“We have a contract in place with Daniel until the end of next year, plus options, which means we are both in a very good place. We want to make this journey we are on together a very successful one,” Seidl told The Age.
“Daniel has shown in the past that with the right car and the right team he can pull off race wins, so there is no reason why he should not be able to fight for World titles if we deliver from our side.”
The McLaren team boss firmly believes the former Red Bull driver, winner of eight grands prix, has lost none of the speed that carried him onto the 2014 and 2016 season’s podiums.
“The most important thing a driver must have is speed,” he continued. “That’s something we can’t fix as a team if it’s not there. Daniel has shown in the past if he has the right material, the right car, the right team around him, he can fight with the best in his sport and win races.
“He’s very experienced, he has seen different teams and different organisations and he has a clear idea of what it means to fight for race wins, and that’s an experience we wanted to have in the team when we got Daniel on board.”
The German was full of praise for Ricciardo’s work ethic, saying the 32-year-old not only does the job in the car but also off the track.
“Despite the huge experience he has, he is not shying away from still putting the effort in to get better,” he said.
“As a team boss, as important as doing a great job inside the car it is [equally] as important being a great leader within the team outside the car.
“The drivers are the heroes of the sport. It is especially important when things go wrong on a weekend that these guys stay positive and motivate the team and Daniel is great at that, not just at the track but especially in the factory.
“Daniel is the one who was disappointed the most with the challenging start he had with us. But we have to accept changing a team from one year to the next in this complex environment with these complex cars, with the limited testing time we also had last year, it was always a challenging mission which Daniel was up for.
“But the most important thing was Daniel never gave up. He never lost the trust of the team, we never lost the trust in him and he continued to improve throughout the season. He had a strong second half, including a great result in our first win for many, many years at Monza.”
This weekend at the Spanish Grand Prix, Ricciardo will start his 216th F1 grand prix, edging ahead of fellow Aussie Mark Webber on the all-time list.
Seidl said: “I hope we can give him this weekend a competitive car so he can celebrate this milestone with a good result.”
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