With Daniel Ricciardo aiming to revive another disastrous season with McLaren at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix this week, a terrifying moment in Baku four years ago may come as a shock to Australians.
Former Formula 1 driver Martin Brundel believes a crash involving Ricardo and then Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen at the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix was “major” for his downfall – and so was Ricardo.
A year after the incident, Ricardo told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, “I have struggled to leave the whole nation and its aftermath.”
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“It simply came to our notice then.
“As soon as I crashed with him some part of me felt, ‘Your people deserved it, it was a shit show’.”
Verstapen adjusted his line twice to prevent Ricciardo from overtaking, and the second movement resulted in a catastrophe, both of which were wrecked from the race.
Worstapen was also in the lead only because the Red Bull overtook him.
But the Red Bull refuses to put more blame on Verstappen, infuriating Ricciardo.
However, what has happened since Ricciardo left the Red Bull at the end of the 2018 World Championships is that Renault has had two terrible seasons and continues to flirt with McLaren.
The 32-year-old’s fight with the Surrey-based team has put him in serious danger of being sentenced to one year for running into his acquaintance.
“With Max there, he could have easily won that year without that kind of unnecessary crash,” Brundle said of the 2018 Baku crash in a Fox Sports interview.
“Perhaps that was the moment when he realized that they could really love only one driver and that this was going to take Max forward.
“In a way, I’m sure if you could rewind, he’d probably be in the Red Bull and it could work. But it’s really hard when you know you’re not desirable.”
Ricardo finished eighth in the 2021 standings and has fallen further behind this season, with the Western Australian sitting 11th after seven rounds of opening.
His stony time at McLaren has been complicated by the rapid rise of teammate Lando Norris, who finished sixth in 2021 and seventh this season.
Norris was battling tonsillitis at the Spanish Grand Prix in May, but the British were still able to score eighth, with Ricardo collecting only 12th.
“These are the moments that hurt him somehow,” Brandell said.
“I don’t think it’s for Lando.
“I wouldn’t claim to know what’s going on in his head, but I know he’ll be really frustrated and annoyed by the lack of momentum right now.
“Something’s not working, and I think the problem is McLaren, if Daniel qualifies outside the top 10 and runs outside the top 10 and is far away from his teammates, they can’t afford to take it next season. Critical.
“I think we have to make a decision in the next few months. This is a very fast moving business. I don’t think any of them want to take such a form in 2023.”
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