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Lando Norris has ‘ended’ Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren, claims Damon Hill

Ricciardo’s poor performance led to McLaren boss Zak Brown questioning the Australian driver’s future on the team

<p>Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris on track in Barcelona</p>

Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris on track in Barcelona

Damon Hill believes Lando Norris has “ended” Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren by dominating his teammate on the track.

Norris has been consistently the better driver since their partnership began two years ago and Ricciardo continues to trail his teammate this season, with only 11 championship points collected from the first seven races, compared to Norris’s 48.

Ricciardo’s poor performance led to McLaren boss Zak Brown questioning the Australian driver’s future on the team, and former world champion Hill believes Norris’s outstanding driving has been a catalyst for Ricciardo’s slide.

“I remember when Lando was already signed at McLaren and then Daniel Ricciardo was signed,” Hill told the F1 Nation podcast. “[Daniel] came up to us in the paddock and he said [to Norris]: ‘I’m going to end you’. I remember thinking that’s always a risky thing to say because it looks like the other way around, that Daniel Riccardo has been ended by Lando. He can’t crack it.

“And then the motivation goes and the questions come, and then the pressure goes back onto the person who signed him [McLaren boss Zak Brown] in the first place. If there are lots of resources going out to pay for a very expensive driver then inevitably he’s under an enormous amount of strain. Does that help someone go faster? Probably not. But what to do about it? I’m as intrigued by this as all of us.”

Ricciardo’s contract with McLaren runs until the end of 2023, but Brown has hinted that the 32-year-old’s deal could be terminated earlier than that date.

“It kind of ebbs and flows, where sometimes I’ll get down on myself,” Ricciardo told Crash on Monday, “but then other times I’m fired up and motivated to prove a lot of people wrong and prove myself right.

“More times than not, I’ll kind of chuckle at the doubt, because even last year – for sure – there were times where I was trying to figure it out. But already in April and May [last year] there were articles like, ‘He’s lost it,’ but six months earlier in 2020 I was regarded as one of the standout drivers of that season.

“The reality is I’ve not forgotten how to drive in six months, I haven’t lost my competitive edge; it’s just kind of a moment in time that I knew I could come out of. You are always going to get people saying this and that. It is what it is, it’s up to me in the car to prove them wrong.

“But no one’s going to get into me more than myself as well, so someone telling me that I need to pull my finger out is not going to change me – because if they are telling me to pull my finger out, then I’m telling myself much more.”

Last time out, Ricciardo finished 13th at the Monaco Grand Prix. Next up is the Azerbaijan GP on Sunday 12 June. Last season, Ricciardo recorded a 13th-placed finish at the event.

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