Despite all the Formula 1 drama going on between Alpine and Oscar Piastri, the single most talked-about storyline in F1 this summer involved Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren. Well, it seems like McLaren CEO Zak Brown's done it—he's really done it. Ricciardo will be leaving the team at the end of the current season, likely paving the way for rookie Oscar Piastri.
It's been widely reported that Brown had already handed Piastri a signed contract after Alpine reportedly failed to snatch the rookie up. Alpine denies this, of course. Regardless, Brown's alleged decision seemed to make it clear that a McLaren seat would be vacant for the 2023 season. With Lando Norris' seat secure at the Papaya Orange squad, it looked obvious that the racing executive didn't see his team's future involving Ricciardo.
McLaren has yet to announce who will partner Norris in 2023, though with Piastri and Alpine's legal battle expected to drag on for a bit, it could be a while until that decision's made public.
“It’s been a privilege to be a part of the McLaren Racing family for the last two seasons but following several months of discussions with Zak and Andreas, we have decided to terminate my contract with the team early and agree to mutually part ways at the end of this season," said Ricciardo in a press release.
“I’ll be announcing my own future plans in due course but regardless of what this next chapter brings, I have no regrets and am proud of the effort and work I gave McLaren, especially the win in Monza, last season," he added. "I’ve enjoyed working with everyone at McLaren both trackside and back in Woking and will be giving my all on and off track as we enjoy the remainder of the season together. I’ve never been more motivated to compete and be a part of a sport that I love so much and look forward to what comes next.”
The Australian posted the following video announcement to his Twitter account.
The footage clearly shows much more emotion than the written announcement shared by McLaren's PR department. The fact that Ricciardo begins the video with "not great news" before reminiscing about his Monza win shows that this wasn't an easy decision for the Australian. I'd dare say that Ricciardo looked melancholic in the two-minute-long video, maybe even downright sad.
Today's announcements didn't touch on one important detail. How much did McLaren pay Ricciardo to break his contract? Reports claim that amount to be anywhere from $15,000,000 to $25,000,000. Even if that's not the news Ricciardo expected from the team, it's safe to say he will be handsomely rewarded for being shown the door prematurely—at least financially.
It appears that Ricciardo, Piastri, and likely Mick Schumacher will be chasing down whatever seats are left for next year. It's evident that Piastri will race at either Alpine or McLaren, but who knows about the other two?
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