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Hakkinen concerned by Ricciardo's lack of understanding of his problem

NEWS STORY
28/10/2022

Two-time world champion, Mika Hakkinen admits to being puzzled by Daniel Ricciardo's inability to understand his poor form.

A disappointing debut season with McLaren has been followed by a year that is proving to be a real low point in the popular Australian's career.

When Zak Brown claimed earlier in the year that Ricciardo had not lived up to expectations the writing appeared to be on the wall, and sure enough the Woking outfit subsequently confirmed that he would not be retained.

Out-classed in qualifying and on race day by his less experienced teammate is one thing, but in the eyes of two-time world champion, Mika Hakkinen, Ricciardo's failure to understand the issue is quite another. Indeed, the Finn says Ricciardo's failure to pinpoint the root of his problem makes it almost impossible for him to emerge from his current rut, far less return to F1 firing on all cylinders should he choose to take a sabbatical.

"His performance has been dropping, he's not going flat-out there," says the Finn on The Race F1 podcast. "So people are not sure with him if he's quick enough.

"That could make it difficult having a year off and coming back," he warned, "because if you're not quick enough, there's always some kind of explanation, some reason. And I feel he's not giving this information very clearly to media, to fans, to the team.

"That's a bit scary," he continued. "You have to know why I'm not able to maximise my performance to the same level as my team-mate."

Last season saw Ricciardo out-qualified by his teammate 15-7, and though there was that famous win at Monza he finished the year 45 points adrift.

This season Norris has out-qualified him 17-2, and has 109 points to the Australian's 29.

So disheartened was Ricciardo following last weekend's race that he admitted to feeling "helpless".

"Last year was a struggle," he admitted, "but now I look back at last year, and I'm like, 'Oh, that's actually pretty good compared to this one'.

"I'm choosing to laugh because I don't really want to cry," he admitted. "I'm still going to do what I can in the last three (races) but I'm at a point now where I'm not going to hope or think or expect that it's going to be an amazing last three races. I'll do what I can but days like today kind of leave you feeling a bit helpless.

"When you think it can't get worse, it does," he said. "That's where, I don't know, I don't know how I'm continuing to continue because to say it's painful is an understatement. It's been the year that it's been... just so far off the pace, I simply can't lean on the car, I can't push, I can't get the time out of it. The inconsistency through the lap times, it shows that it really is a struggle, but to have such a really big margin again, it remains a mystery."

Hakkinen believes that Ricciardo's intention of sitting out a season, is not the way to go, the Finn recalling when he made a similar decision at the end of 2001.

"I thought 'OK if you feel like it I'd appreciate it, I will see what happens'," he said. "But I did recognise after three-four months, when the season started and I was in Monaco or wherever I was, I was definitely feeling like 'no way I wanted to go back there'.

"It requires so much energy, so much power from your body and physiologically, a lot of energy. I knew that it doesn't matter if I have one year off, I cannot come back. I already knew that halfway through the season that I'm not coming back.

"If Daniel decides to have one year off, from experience I know once you leave this sport normally you shouldn't come back. You can't perform out there while thinking 'should I retire or not'. You have to go flat-out every second.

"My position was a little bit different because I was already a two-time World Champion," he added, "I'd achieved my goals. Daniel has a different situation."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by geordiemik, 29/10/2022 13:27

"Mika might well be correct in his comments about taking time off because even Schuey hardly set the world on fire at Mercedes. But, then again it worked for Prost. I suppose everyone's different and it might be more important for Ricciardo to dig deep and work out where his problem really is. Easier said then done!"

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2. Posted by Burton, 28/10/2022 18:00

"He doesn't want to drive for Haas or Williams...he doesn't want to drive in another series...what a waste."

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3. Posted by Defiant, 28/10/2022 17:30

"A fair assessment. I think DR has shown great talent throughout his career but I'm genuinely beginning to think he's lost it and should just move to a different category. Maybe he can re-find what we all know is within him somewhere. It worked for Kimi."

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