Undercut: Why not two top drivers?

It would appear that I have devoted quite a bit of copy to one Daniel Ricciardo already this year, such is the nature of a serendipitous blogger – I go where my mood takes me, it is as simple as that. The good news is that when I finally make up my mind to put my hands on the keyboard you must know I really believe in what I’m saying [typing]. The bad news is that sometimes I go off on a tangent or end up fixating on one aspect or in this case one driver of this great sport we all so dearly love…

You must believe me when I say I really wanted to talk about Fernando Alonso in this post. His F1 driving this year, dragging that underperforming orange car to positions it does not even deserve, along with his incredible race-changing stints at Le Mans last weekend, must have caused even his harshest critics to begrudgingly admit he has been par excellence, the crème de la crème, in the zone, on another level. I could go on, but no, instead I am compelled to sound off about the honey badger (again) due to the recent barrage of headlines I read this morning.

Here is the one that caught my eye the most “Marko: McLaren offer Ricciardo more every week” … I like this headline, it is my kind of statement, it stirs the pot and don’t we all love a little cheekiness now and then.

But I have to ask the question, why on earth would Ricciardo even consider a move to the guys at Woking? Even if they [McLaren] were truly the fourth fastest team [car] and they are most definitely not, they would still be behind Red Bull by a second a lap.

Pile on top of this reports that from an organizational stand point all is not well at one of F1’s former power houses and regardless of the degree to which these rumors or reports are true (did everyone here read the account from Martin Whitmarsh yet – so unflattering…), it does seems this once mighty team has totally lost the plot as we in the racing world like to say, and again I ask, why would Ricciardo, despite the reported 14 million dollar pay increase, want to risk moving away from Red Bull, a team with which he has already collected two wins for this year? Furthermore, Ricciardo has said himself that the next few years will surely determine the rest of his F1 career, which is a euphemism for his success or failure. It would seem to me a no-brainer; you would want to move up the food chain not down.

Of course I can see McLaren’s logic in the matter, if Alonso does move to an alternate series (and I hope he does not) Ricciardo would be a great replacement, fast, smart, tempered, the guy that can constantly and consistently bring home the points for that end of the year payout. Stoffel Vandoorne is just not quite up to team leader yet and while Lando Norris is also in high demand, F1 is very different from F— whatever it is he is racing in currently. Rhetorical question here: Does McLaren want to become what Williams is currently – a team without any seasoned driver to help guide development or at the very least help determine what the issues are with an unbalanced uncompetitive car???)

This also begs yet another, bigger question and one even more confounding. Since it all but looks like Kimi Raikkonen is on his way out (I thought this should have been done two years ago – sorry all you Kimi fans – I like him as well but he just makes too many mistakes) why is Ferrari not jumping at the chance to secure Ricciardo as the driver who replaces him? Sebastian Vettel has stated many times he is fine with his former teammate and in Ricciardo not only will they [Ferrari] buttress up their chances of the constructor trophy, the PR department would have a field day with that million dollar smile.

Other reasons to hire the Aussie, here are just a few; he rarely complains, he never points a finger at his team (barring the completely cocked-up pitstop at Monaco a few years back and even then he was extremely polite in his frustration toward the team), he has proven time and time again he is a team player (which is a must for the guys in red), he already has a good teammate rapport with Vettel and there is no previous bad blood between the two former teammates. Lastly, and most importantly, Ricciardo has already shown he does not need to be the guy in the limelight, doesn’t need to be center stage, which he has exhibited driving alongside Max Verstappen these last few seasons.

Ferrari most definitely have the resources to pay for these two drivers and per one of my prior blog posts for the Undercut it is time we get back to a Formula 1 where a team’s primary objective is to have the absolute best possible drivers on either side of the garage no matter how testy it gets.

Mercedes was a better team when Nico Rosberg was pushing Hamilton and Hamilton was pushing Rosberg and the drama was great for that rivalry as well as for F1, however, as I have already mentioned this is not the case with Ricciardo but if it was, I say as eloquently as I can – who gives a carbon fiber sh*t, its racing…

What I wish for, and maybe if Bernie was still running the show we would have it (because as the ring leader he knew what we all wanted to see, which is why the F1 world put up with his dictator style for so long – say what you will and we all have, but under his stewardship F1 produced some great drivers, even greater races and incredible rivalries), would be Lewis and Seb at Ferrari and Alonso and Daniel at Mercedes and Max can stay where he is for now and be the spoiler while he works on his race craft and maturity…

Now that would be racing as we have not seen since the days of Senna/Prost or Mansell/Piquet or Jones/Reutemann. You could throw in Vettel and Mark Webber, and the aforementioned Hamilton and Rosberg and let’s also throw in for good measure the one that everyone likes to refer to ad nauseam, the Hamilton/Alonso rivalry. There are many, many more.

I don’t know what Ricciardo will decide this year in regards to the color his fire suit will be, but then again it is not entirely up to him is it?? Maurizio Arrivabene, Sergio Marchionne, Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda might have a thing or two to say about that as well. But one thing is for sure, the top teams need to start acting like top teams and top teams have top drivers – two of them. Ya hear me Ferrari??? Am I makin’ myself clear Mercedes???? That’s T…O…P…D…R…I…V…E…R…S…. Top drivers.

Then again after all this kerfuffle, Ricciardo might remain just one of two top drivers at Red Bull and that would be that…. so much for stirring the pot.

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