The 1997 World Champion, Jacques Villeneuve, had some harsh words to say about Daniel Ricciardo’s future in F1. Villeneuve bluntly stated that he doesn’t believe Alpine have any reason to take Ricciardo on and that if he were to take a break, it could spell the end of his F1 career.
Headlines everywhere have discussed Daniel Ricciardo at length in recent months so to make a long story short: Daniel Ricciardo was great at Red Bull, but he left in 2018 to join Renault, he didn’t do well there, he left Renault to join McLaren in 2020, he did even worse, now he has lost his seat at McLaren.
Despite his isolated win at Monza last year, Ricciardo has only six races to prove to the other teams that he’s still got it. The current teams with a vacant seat are Williams, Alfa Romeo, Alpine, and Haas.
Villeneuve told F1 TV that he wasn’t surprised that Ricciardo hasn’t been touted as a candidate for Alpine: “Why would he be?”
“He had two terrible years at Renault and two even more terrible years at McLaren,” he said. “That’s four years. Almost half of his Formula 1 career was bad. Alpine have no reason to take him, especially when he’s driven there before. The modern cars just don’t seem to suit his driving style.
“He was impressive at Red Bull. He showed amazing overtaking manoeuvres. He was ahead of Max at the beginning. But in the end Max started to get a handle on him. Then he switched. And after the switch something seems to have happened that he never managed to get a handle on. He never recovered from that.”
Ricciardo was overheard at the Dutch GP speaking to Sergio Perez that he might “take a year off and come back in 2024.”
Villeneuve thinks this is a bad idea (along with many fans): “It could make him lazy. You can take a year off if you’re an Alonso, a Schumacher, if you’ve been world champion and won a lot of races, if you know in the paddock that you’ll always be at your best, no matter what season. After four bad years don’t do that.
“You take what you can get. If you have an offer to drive in Formula 1, then you take every cockpit. In public you will say, ‘You don’t want to drive for one of the back teams,’ but if that’s the only contract you can get, then you’ll sign it.”
Haas team principal, Guenther Steiner, has downplayed the rumours at Monza that Ricciardo might drive for them: “I’ve talked to most of the potential drivers, which is my job… There are none of those [experienced and technical drivers] who are currently on the market. Except maybe Daniel, but his form isn’t great at the moment and we don’t know what he’s going to do.”
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