Daniel Ricciardo will reportedly take a monster pay cut as part of his multi-year deal to join McLaren from 2021.
The 30-year-old Aussie stunned the Formula 1 grid when his contract with the English team was announced just days after Ferrari confirmed Sebastian Vettel will be replaced by Carlos Sainz at the end of the year.
Details of Ricciardo’s bold move are now beginning to leak out, according to a veteran French Formula 1 journalist.
Ricciardo enjoyed one of the largest pay packets in Formula 1 since joining Renault at the start of the 2019 season — but his days of challenging Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel on the sport’s top-earners list now appear numbered.
The report claims Ricciardo was set to earn a stunning 25 million euros ($41.5m) with Renault during the 2020 Formula 1 season before the Aussie accepted a pay cut during the coronavirus-enforced season lock down.
Now Limacher claims Ricciardo’s deal with McLaren is worth $17 million per-year (10 million euros per year) — less than half his current deal.
The 15 million euro ($A24m) per-year pay cut would represent a 60 per cent dive.
However, the fine print in the contract reportedly includes a series of juicy bonuses for the Aussie, including:
— Ricciardo has been guaranteed status as the team’s No. 1 driver
— Ricciardo’s contract is for two years with an option in his favour for a one-year extension through to the end of the 2023 season; and
— Ricciardo can unlock a series of bonus payments reportedly ranging from 400,000 euros every time he collects championship points to 1 million euros for each grand prix victory.
And while one shouldn’t make mountains out of molehills — as some may claim the Leclerc-Vettel crash to be — the truth is Ferrari has been shooting itself in the foot for a decade now.
Ferrari’s fearsome aura has all but faded into oblivion — and it’s not just because it hasn’t won an F1 title since 2008.
Despite popular belief, the Italian giant isn’t accustomed to winning. History will tell you that Ferrari has weathered several stretches in the sport as being second best, or worse.
Ferrari was a force to be reckoned with from the 1960s through to this century, but there were gaps in its success, such as between 1964 and 1975 and again between 1984 and 1998 when it didn’t win any constructors’ championships.
What it had been accustomed to, however, was bouncing back.
Ferrari was not a constructor set up to fail, because that’s not how commanding founder Enzo Ferrari left it.
That the team has now gone 12 years without any real success and doesn’t look any closer to achieving it should tell you something has gone horribly awry.
Pinpointing when or how is hard to discern from the outer, but the 2010 season finale may have been the sliding doors moment.
Fernando Alonso had the world title in the palm of his hand until a strategic error from the pit wall saw his chances go up in smoke.
Alonso had an eight-point lead over Mark Webber heading into the race, while Vettel — who had not led the championship all season — was still a mathematical chance to win the title from 15 points behind.
Ferrari fixated on Webber, who pitted early in the race and became stuck in a midfield battle. Alonso soon joined him as Ferrari played the conservative strategy of covering off the Australian by also coming into the pits early.
Alonso started the race in third, only needed to finish fourth, but finished seventh having stood on the podium in seven of the previous eight races.
Meanwhile, the inexplicable oversight from Ferrari allowed Vettel to take the chequered flag, 25 points, and the world title from under its nose.
The aftermath was brutal.
Italian cabinet minister, Roberto Calderoli, called for Ferrari president Luca Cordero di Montezemolo to resign, while team principal, Stefano Domenicali said heads could roll for the bungle.
Neither are still at Ferrari which is onto its third team principal since Domenicali.
In truth, the team hasn’t been the same since that night in Abu Dhabi.
Race strategy certainly hasn’t been its strong suit, although its drivers have left plenty to be desired in recent years, too.
Eight years after being the beneficiary of Ferrari’s error in 2010, Vettel — now racing in red and not Red Bull — was in prime position to pay the team back.
Ferrari was quicker than Mercedes for most of 2018, but repeated errors from Vettel (we counted seven at the time) saw the title go to Lewis Hamilton, again.
Vettel has lacked drive ever since and will be moved on by Ferrari at the end of the year.
Then there was 2019 which started with overwhelming optimism in the Ferrari garage that turned to despair at record speed as the team was utterly outplayed at the development table by Mercedes.
“I think we lost the championship last year when we were designing our car,” Binotto said in hindsight.
“I think it was the car project that was not good enough to start with.
“Our development rate, and generally speaking our design, was not as good as our main competitor’s. I think that’s the reason.”
Unsurprisingly, expectations were drastically reined in for 2020, and yet, Ferrari is still coming up short.
Ferrari will hope Leclerc’s moment of madness in Austria on Sunday isn’t a sign of things to come, because its lack of success started wearing thin a very long time ago.
It took just one corner for the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc to come to blows and it took just one lap for both drivers’ race to end.
It was actually twice as bad for the Scuderia, who scored a surprise podium with Leclerc last week, as they were unable to test the upgrades they hurriedly brought forward after just one race. It means they won’t have any new data going into the Hungarian Grand Prix next week and have effectively wasted a week of work.
It will infuriate Mattia Binotto and you can be sure he was throwing some choice words at his drivers in Italian as he left the pit wall before he’d even managed to get comfortable.
Vettel said “there was not much he could have done differently” and that he was driving safely but ran out of room as “Charles tried something”, and Leclerc held his hands up as the guilty party.
“I apologised,” he said. “Excuses are not enough at times like this. I’m disappointed in myself and let the team down. I am sorry even though it’s not enough. We don’t need that, the team doesn’t need that and I’ve put all the plans of the team in the bin.”
RICCIARDO’S CHANCE WASTED
Dan fumes at ‘desperate’ move
Daniel Ricciardo began in eighth and was the furthest one up the field who started on the medium compound tyres, with the rest of the top 10 starting on the softs.
He immediately went up to seventh but was held up by his teammate Esteban Ocon, despite going faster not only than his teammate, but McLaren’s Carlos Sainz in front of him.
The time was opportune for a call on the Renault pit wall to switch the drivers so Ricciardo could attack Sainz but no call came, leaving Ricciardo to try and overtake his teammate on his own.
As he went for it on lap 18, they so nearly collided with each other as Ocon refused to yield and caused him to lose more time on Sainz, as well allowing those behind the Aussie to close the gap on the two Renaults. He eventually passed Ocon on lap 20, but by that time had wasted at least four laps to have a go at taking fifth place.
It was a waste of what could have been a brilliant strategy call from Renault but could also be a sign of the French team’s potential bitterness over Ricciardo’s decision to jump ship.
They must have wished they’d not wasted the time letting the two race when Ocon rolled into the garage to retire three laps later.
HAMILTON GETS SEASON STARTED
Lewis Hamilton was looking at this season, before all of the coronavirus disruptions, as his best opportunity to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of seven World Championships, but it’s not been smooth sailing.
He started last weekend with a number of troubles, being pinged with two penalties across the three days, the second of which cost him a podium place.
However, he came back fighting like the champion he is this weekend, first with a stunning pole position in treacherous wet conditions and next with a classic, dominant display out front in his Mercedes.
The Brit managed his tyres perfectly as he avoiding hitting the kerbs as aggressively as he did the week before while still keeping the chasing Max Verstappen at arm length.
It was more hope than expectation that Hamilton would continue to flap but on the basis of this race, he will again take some beating this season.
RACING POINT NAIL IT
The Racing Point cars, especially that of Sergio Perez, have really impressed so far this season and look a lot like the Mercedes model of 12 months ago that conquered all that was put in front of it.
The team seems to have got the Mercedes engine working a treat and it proved it with 20 laps remaining as Perez passed Ricciardo with so much ease that it made all onlookers scratch their heads and think the Aussie had a mechanical problem.
The Mexican then set after Red Bull’s Alex Albon and set fastest lap after fastest lap in doing so, while his teammate continued to attack Ricciardo.
Ricciardo’s experience held off Stroll for long enough but in such a short period of time, Perez opened up an eight-second gap between himself at the two battlers behind.
Racing Point is already the surprise package of the season and it could just be the dark horse to nick the tag as ‘best of the rest’.
That is unless the stewards step in and deem their package to be illegal. Renault has formally protested against the ‘Pink Mercedes’, suggesting Racing Point has not designed all of their cars’ elements themselves.
Max Verstappen was pretty quiet for the majority of the race as the midfield battles took the limelight but he sprang into action when Valtteri Bottas came back to attack him for the second step on the podium with just five laps to go.
The Finn was trimming the gap, lap after lap, and thought he’d finally got Mercedes the 1-2 they so desired, but it wasn’t as easy as he thought it was going to be.
Verstappen returned serve immediately with a stunning overtake on the outside and then defended it expertly to hold his position for a little bit longer with much less power at his disposal.
Bottas did eventually take the position but it was a stunning exchange nonetheless.
Lewis Hamilton was joined in taking a knee by the majority of his fellow drivers ahead of F1’s second race of the season at the Styrian GP, with some drivers again opting to stand.
As at last week’s Austrian GP, all 20 drivers again wore T-shirts featuring the words ‘End Racism’, with Hamilton’s also saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the front, amid the sport’s continued stand against all form of discrimination.
Of the 16 drivers who were present at the front of the grid for a short gathering ahead of the Austrian national anthem, 12 took a knee with four standing.
The image of the drivers was only briefly seen on the TV world feed before a pre-planned sky dive above the circuit was shown.
ITV2 presenter Melissa Nathoo blasted the cutaway, writing: “I do think the sport should show a united front, but kneeling or not is the decision of the drivers. However, cutting away at that moment was poor form and completely negates the message of the movement.”
“To see the live feed from the F1 grid cut away from showing any drivers taking/not taking a knee is not one bit helpful,” motoring journalist Dave Humphreys tweeted. “Disappointing no matter how much Red Bull is paying in sponsorship.”
Meanwhile, Sky Sports F1 host Simon Lazenby questioned why drivers were still not taking a knee during the pre-race protest.
“You’ve got to ask the question would it have been in the best interests in the image of this sport to get it together this week. That’s not a judgment, it’s for you to decide at home,” Lazenby said.
“The images still don’t seem to fit the message in this the most global of sports. If NASCAR, football and cricket can get it right, why can’t Formula One? That’s the question. From where I’m standing here, we have seen some taking an knee and some not, it’s just a mixed message.”
Lap1: Ferrari’s KO each other
Former world champions Jenson Button agreed, saying: “It doesn’t look so good with some standing and some kneeling but the important thing to me is what they have to say about ending racism, they all agree.
“I think we as Formula One have to be proactive in pushing forward and ending racism and we race as one. It can’t go quiet, we need to mention it every race, we need to not only be mentioning it, we need to be proactive in making change. I still don’t know how we go about that to help diversity in our sport as well. It’s something we all need to sit down and discuss and make change.”