As his 2021 Formula One campaign continues to limp to the finish line, Daniel Ricciardo is being urged to make the most of the off-season by retired racer Mark Webber.
Hopes were high that Ricciardo’s fortunes at McLaren were on the rise after victory at Monza and three other top-five finishes since the mid-season break.
Last weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix, however, ended in disappointment for the Australian, with an unexplained fuel problem resulting in a 12th-placed finish – his third straight race outside the points.
With two more races left in this year’s championship, Webber says the Monza victory shows Ricciardo still has the ability to mix it with the best but needs to come back next year having resolved his issues with his car and team.
“The winter can’t come soon enough for him to regroup and just work out for him how he’s going to, with McLaren, just unlock a bit more performance for himself,” nine-times F1 race winner Webber told AAP.
“You don’t forget how to drive quickly overnight but for whatever reason he hasn’t clicked at the moment.
“Daniel, when he does, we saw it, it’s in there and when he does he’s very, very special.”
Webber firmly believed Ricciardo has plenty to offer F1 in terms of both driving ability and off-track personality, and there’s no need for the relationship with McLaren to alter greatly heading into 2022.
“McLaren would struggle to have someone better for the brand. He’s so good for the sport,” Webber said.
“He had a problem (in Qatar) with the car which would sort of amplify his issues.
“In a technical sport, it’s easy to get brought undone and people don’t understand the full scenario of what’s going on but by Daniel’s incredibly high standards – this is a race winner, this is a guy that he’s been in the middle step quite a few times and plenty of podiums – so he knows how to have success at that level.
“By his own admission, of course, it’s been a challenging year for him in this car.
“Hopefully, he can finish the year with some strong results.”