‘It’s unfortunate’: Daniel Ricciardo exit theory offered by former F1 world champion

Daniel Ricciardo’s downturn in form last year was due to spending “too much time on activities out of the cockpit rather than it” according to 1980 Formula 1 world champion Alan Jones.

Having made his F1 debut in 2011, popular Australian driver Ricciardo lost his seat at McLaren last year after a sudden drop in form, particularly compared to team-mate Lando Norris.

The 33-year-old’s place at McLaren was taken by compatriot and 2021 F2 champion Oscar Piastri.

While Piastri will be racing in the Australian Grand Prix this weekend at Albert Park for the first time, Ricciardo will be watching on from the sidelines having joined Red Bull as a third driver after his McLaren exit.

Yet Jones, Australia’s last F1 world champion, has his own theory as to why Ricciardo’s results dipped.

“I don’t think he even knows himself [why his form disappeared],” Jones told the Herald Sun. “I just think he went off the boil.”

“Really, in my own opinion, I think he concentrated and spent a bit too much time for his activities out of the cockpit rather than in it. That’s my opinion.”

Jones added that he doesn’t see a route for Ricciardo back into Formula 1, with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner noting as recently as last week his satisfaction with the team’s current driver pairing of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

“I don’t think he will get a drive at Red Bull unless something happens to the two current drivers,” Jones said.

“I doubt [he will be on the grid in 2024]. At the end of the day, there is probably no reason why Red Bull won’t re-sign Perez, and obviously, Verstappen. I can’t see anybody at Ferrari resigning or going away, so I just can’t see where he can go.

“Obviously, everybody likes to go out on a high note, and it’s just unfortunate that for whatever reason, and I don’t even think he knows himself, why his performance dropped off.

“As I said before, I just can’t see him getting back into Formula 1.”

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