Daniel Ricciardo responsible for one of the ‘biggest mysteries in modern F1’

The curious case of Daniel Ricciardo continues to baffle the F1 world.

Life in McLaren colours hasn’t started too brightly for the Australian, who left Monaco with a bitter taste in this mouth after finishing P12 at his favourite track. It capped off a disappointing weekend as Ricciardo battled big time in practice and qualifying too before the main event.

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He’s languishing down at eighth in the drivers’ championship, well behind teammate Lando Norris — who stood on the podium in Monaco — in third.

Ricciardo has struggled to come to grips with his new car since leaving Renault at the end of last season, regularly talking about how he is still yet to master the intricacies of McLaren’s four-wheeler.

He couldn’t believe he was a full second slower than Norris in qualifying and there was no punch to his race on Sunday — leaving pundits to question just what the heck is going on with the 31-year-old.

Speaking on the BBC’s Chequered Flag podcast, F1 commentator Jack Nicholls struggled to comprehend the mystery surrounding Ricciardo’s lacklustre performances.

“There’s not many F1 drivers out there who are a second slower than their teammate, especially when you get to the Ricciardo-Norris level,” Nicholls said.

“What surprised me was he didn’t show any better really in the grand prix. There were times he was not keeping with the cars in front. Maybe he was playing a long game but he didn’t go much longer than anybody else … there was nothing shown in the race.

“You compare that to a Sergio Perez who doesn’t have (Max) Verstappen’s pace over one lap but in the race, full credit to Perez, came through with some good pace, closed in on Norris — you at least saw something.

“That’s the strange thing with Ricciardo. He hasn’t got anything, anywhere, this weekend, and although he looked better in Barcelona, it feels like one of the biggest mysteries of modern Formula 1.”

Ricciardo failed to fire on the streets of Monaco.Source:Getty Images

Former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer called for calm, suggesting it’s too early to judge Ricciardo just yet, but was still left with plenty of questions.

At the start of the year drivers who had joined new teams — like Sergio Perez (Red Bull) and Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) — also struggled as they adjusted to new environments. But Ricciardo is running out of time to find his feet, especially after Perez (fourth) and Vettel (fifth) secured their best results of 2021 in Monaco.

“Something’s up. It’s very weird. But it’s five races in, let’s judge a little bit later,” Palmer told Chequered Flag. “Plus, in Barcelona he had a pretty good drive and beat Lando, even Bahrain his first race he out-qualified Norris.

“This weekend was baffling and I do agree with the sentiment, it is very weird how much he’s struggling.

“He could fall back on the fact that all the drivers at new teams are struggling, ‘It just seems to be something we’re all going through’. A couple of races later and Vettel’s finishing fifth in an Aston Martin with a superb drive getting right onto terms with (teammate Lance) Stroll.

“Perez had a great drive and he’s shown flashes of getting on to terms with it. And even when he’s not … it doesn’t look good for Perez but the gap is a lot closer than Ricciardo to Norris anyway.

“It’s Ricciardo now, with Fernando Alonso, that are the slightly baffling cases.

“We know how good he is. He’s brilliant at Monaco. We’ve seen it over the years … but this year he was an also-ran. It was really odd.”

The Honey Badger is searching for answers.Source:Getty Images

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