Jenson Button takes aim at McLaren after CEO calls out Daniel Ricciardo – ‘It hurts’
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Jenson Button has shared his thoughts on the comments by McLaren CEO Zak Brown regarding Daniel Ricciardo. The 2009 F1 world champion was taken aback after the American claimed the Australian driver is not meeting expectations for the eight-time constructors champions.
The Australian has finished ahead of British teammate Lando Norris just twice so far in 2022. Ricciardo was given a three-year contract when he joined McLaren last season, but was out-qualified 15 times by Norris in 2021, who out-raced him by the same score and ended the season 45 points ahead in the Drivers’ Championship.
The 32-year-old has suffered mixed fortunes since joining the team, and boss Brown seems to be growing frustrated with the driver. Button, a former McLaren racer, was surprised to hear such a public statement from a team boss regarding the performance of one of his stars.
“Zak is his own man and I can’t change his thoughts and what he says, but I was surprised that he came out and said that,” Button said on the Sky Sports F1 show Any Given Monday. “Everyone with the team should be protecting these drivers. Formula 1 is a real mental game. They all have immense skill but you don’t perform if your head is not in the right place.
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“I was surprised Zak came out and said he was not meeting expectations – we all know that. But when your Team Principal comes out and says that, it definitely hurts. I’m hoping they have talked since and they can just focus on getting the best out of Daniel and the team around him for the rest of the year. Then we’ll see where he ends up in the future.”
Brown also seemed to hint he may be willing to let the eight-time race winner leave if his performances do not improve. “I don’t want to get into the contract but there are mechanisms in which we’re committed to each other and then there’s mechanisms in which we’re not,” said the American, quoted by the Race.
“I’ve spoken with Daniel about it, we’re not getting the results that we both hoped for, but we’re both going to continue to push. I think he showed at Monza he can win races. We also need to continue to develop our race car, it’s not capable of winning races, but we’d like to see him further up the grid.
“We’ll just play it – I don’t want to say ‘one race at a time’ because we’re not going to one race at a time – but we’ll just see how things develop, what he wants to do.”
When asked about Ricciardo’s immediate future, Button added: “Daniel came into the team in a very strong position, so the contract is more in his favour, I would say, but there will always be clauses.
“To be fair, if a team doesn’t want you driving for them, you don’t want to be there – and vice versa. Normally there’s an easier way out of it than just the clauses in the contract.”
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