Dislodging Ricciardo from his current McLaren contract for 2023 could be what McLaren are currently discussing or attempting. As we mentioned on this week’s podcast, that’s not unprecedented as back in 2009, Ferrari paid Kimi Raikkonen a reported $20M to go away.
I’ve read a few articles this morning that Daniel Ricciardo has asked for a similar figure but what makes this interesting is timing…doesn’t it always?
Alpine maintain they have a contract with Oscar Piastri to be their driver in 2023 and team boss Otmar Szafnauer hinted the team may fight this is French court. My guess is that the Alpine Junior team holds a contract, not the F1 team, and perhaps there was a timing issue about when Oscar would sign a deal with the F1 team that wasn’t met. Why else would McLaren feel confident in engaging in a contract with Piastri if they weren’t convinced he was legally available?
However, before dumping Ricciardo, one might want to make sure Oscar is, indeed, free and clear to race at McLaren, no? Perhaps McLaren are sure and confident, perhaps they are going to part ways with Daniel regardless if Oscar makes it over or not, who knows?
There are many permutations to an exit plan. Some contractual considerations are that Daniel takes a payout but agrees to not race for another team for ascribed period of time in F1. Other considerations might be that if Daniel gets a new ride, his compensation for the new ride would be refunded to McLaren to offset the “walk away” money they paid him.
The other issue is, who pays for Oscar’s legal efforts should Alpine take this to court? One might presume that McLaren may be asked to cover this as well. I have no idea what that might cost but it can’t be cheap and Alpine won’t make it cheap.
No matter how you look at it, this could be very expensive for McLaren and everyone has their breaking point. At what point is McLaren willing to walk away from rainbows on this deal or will they stay the course to the bitter end regardless of cost? Time will tell.