As Daniel Ricciardo’s F1 season continues from hell, he has received unusual support amidst his ongoing struggles.
Australia is clearly well aware of speculation that Daniel Ricciardo’s Formula 1 career is in severe turmoil.
Ricciardo struggled in his second season at McLaren and has only scored once in seven races so far this season.
The pressure on the Aussie is mounting to perform after McLaren boss Zak Brown said it did not meet expectations since he joined the team and behind aa exit clause in Ricciardo’s contract if his poor results continue.
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Ricciardo blown away the criticism earlier this week, but its shape remains the talk of the paddock and Australian F1 fans.
In a show of solidarity, the Optus Stadium in Perth, Ricciardo’s hometown, was illuminated papaya, the orange color of his McLaren team.
Ricciardo has had a long relationship with Optus, who have endorsed the 32-year-old as speculations mount that he could be dumped from McLaren before his contract expires in late 2023 and this year as well.
“Given the crazy press speculation about Daniel and his future, we wanted to send a message of support,” said Optus VP of Marketing Mel Hopkins, for Speedcafè.com.
“Not only do we have the ultimate conviction that Daniel will continue to destroy him in the world of F1 and beyond, but we also know that the power of an entire nation shooting you off and backing you is the best dose of optimism we can give.
“Go the honey badger – you make us proud!”
It’s a slightly different display of support for the Sydney Harbor Bridge turning purple in honor of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, but it’s another sign that Ricciardo’s F1 career is on shaky ground.
Ricciardo spoke to McLaren bosses to clear the air and said the constant discussion about his future has “kindled a fire inside me”.
“Part of me loves it. Like, that’s the truth, “Ricciardo said Formula1.com before the Azerbaijani Grand Prix to want to respond to his criticisms.
“Because I mean, one thing I love about the sport and I think that trying to get to the top of something, you will always be in the spotlight – and there will always be that attention, that pressure and when it can perform in those circumstances, is one of the more powerful and rewarding feelings.
“So I know of course there is chatter and we definitely say some noise at the moment, but for me it’s like a good reason to kind of reject and just to remind people, but first of all, how to remind myself that I can still do it, so I have no doubts.
“So yeah, it’s fun and I have no problem with people talking because I haven’t done anything spectacular this year. So I know it comes with territory, but deep down I still know what I’m capable of and can’t wait to show it, hopefully sooner rather than later.
“I like doubt, it’s like creating this beautiful fire inside of me, so I have a lot of fun.”
The Azerbaijani Grand Prix kicks off on Sunday at 21:00 (AEST).
Originally published as Australia’s desperate attempt to save Daniel Ricciardo amidst F1 fights