Mika Hakkinen agrees with Jenson Button over Ricciardo being "kicked out" of F1

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Will Daniel Ricciardo return to an F1 race seat in the future? (Image: Icon Sport via Getty Images)
Will Daniel Ricciardo return to an F1 race seat in the future? (Image: Icon Sport via Getty Images)

Double Formula 1 drivers' champion Mika Hakkinen concurs with Jenson Button's belief that Daniel Ricciardo will struggle to get back onto the grid after his McLaren axe.

The Aussie was contracted to compete in the 2023 season with the Woking-based outfit, but that deal was cut short a year early. Amid his continued struggles for consistency and performance, McLaren preferred to pay him off and sign rookie Oscar Piastri to take his place.

There were still a couple of other seats open at the time, at Haas and Williams. But, instead of competing for one of the teams at the back of the grid, Ricciardo decided to sign with Red Bull as a reserve to get a break from the sport and hope for better opportunities over the next 12 months.

Hakkinen, who won back-to-back titles in the late 1990s, believes this was a mistake. "I left Formula 1 in 2001. I was two times world champion and I had a chance to have a sabbatical year," the Finn told Top Gear. "He is leaving Formula 1, unfortunately, when he is kicked out.

"So if you have a sabbatical and you want to come back, how can you prove you can be better? How can you prove you are a faster driver than ever? There's a young generation, rookies coming to Formula 1 – can you prove 'I'm quicker than them'?

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"I have to apologise, I sound so negative. But it's a reality and it's a very challenging situation for him. But everybody I think in this paddock likes him. He's a very nice person, with a great sense of humour. Fans like him. But unfortunately teams like McLaren, they want to have a winner."

Mika Hakkinen agrees with Jenson Button over Ricciardo being "kicked out" of F1Jenson Button believes Ricciardo might struggle to return to the grid (Sky Sports)

That analysis echoed the opinion of 2009 title-winner Button, who fears for Ricciardo's future. The Brit said: "I guess he didn't want to drop too far down the grid and work with a team that's more towards the rear, because it's difficult for a driver coming from a team that is almost winning races at times to suddenly know you're fighting for points.

"It is tough. But I still think it would have been a better move for him. Go into a team, work hard, show people what you can do, in a car that maybe suits your style a bit more, and then people forget what happened the year before. That's the issue now, people forget how good Ricciardo is because he's had such a difficult year and a half or two years.

"But he has the talent, and in a car that suits him, he would show his skill and then he has the opportunity to race in a top team again. But sitting out? People just remember what happened last year. It's a tricky one and I really struggle to see him coming back to a competitive team after having a year out."

Daniel Moxon

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15.07.2024, 17:44 • Investigation