Analysis of F1 2022, Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, Colton Hertha, IndyCar, Zak Brown, driver market, contracts

You’ve almost certainly read the rumors by now. Daniel Ricciard is destined to be replaced in McLaren by the young American sensation Colton Hertha after the disastrous move to Woking.

Or so the rumors say.

A look at the state of his 2022 championship makes it a gloomy read. After just five rounds, he is 11th in the standings and 24 points behind teammate Land Norris, who has already won McLaren’s first podium. Ricciardo, on the other hand, scored points only once.

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Herta, meanwhile, is IndyCar’s youngest winner of the dream F1 race, and McLaren noticed and contracted him. Sounds enough to make Ricciard’s fans wince.

So is Ricciardo really in danger? And where did the sudden interest in F1 of the latest American heart attacker come from?

WHO IS COLTON HERTA?

Colton Herta is one of IndyCar’s most exciting young drivers, racing for the legendary Andretti Autosport team with a contract that runs until the end of 2023.

He took to the stage in 2019 by winning just the second race of his first full-time season to become the youngest winner in the history of the sport, and at the end of the year he took another victory and finished seventh in the standings.

He improved to third place in 2020 affected by COVID before falling to fifth place last year, albeit with three wins and five career podiums.

But despite his all-American background, Hertha’s first love was Formula 1, and his racing career began on an F1 trajectory.

He moved to the European single-seater at the age of 15 and won third place in the MSA Formula F4 and the Euroformula Open at F3, and was second in the short Spanish Formula 3 campaign.

But he left Europe for a well-supported program in the IndyCar junior series with Andretti, taking third and second in his first two seasons before being promoted to the highest American rank.

A strong performer on the track with statistics supporting him, he is at the forefront of his generation of American racers, and his focus is on Formula One – and McLaren gave him a potential trip there earlier this year with a development contract that we’ll see tested last year’s McLaren.

Photo by Greg Doherty / Getty ImagesSource: Delivered

HOW BAD IS RICCIARD ACTUALLY?

Depending on what you’ve read, you might believe that Daniel Ricciardo is just as good as cooked. You might believe not only that his form has not improved since his dark and difficult early McLaren days, but also that Norris is leaving him at a terrifying rate.

An informed view of the data suggests otherwise.

There’s no denying that his first six months as a McLaren driver were miserable by his standards, and the reason for that – his discrepancy in driving style with the wacky MCL-35 – is well-ventilated.

By the break in the 2021 half-season, he had qualified an average of 100,377 percent slower than Norris, leaving him 4.45 places lower in the table and occupying the flag 3.5 places behind his teammate.

But the second half of the season was a whole other thing.

Excluding the GPs of Belgium and Russia, his qualifying gap has been significantly reduced to 100.122 percent, or 1.82 places in the network.

And in the races he actually reversed the scenario and finished in 0.5 places forward Norris and surpassed the British 65-47.

Combined with the fact that Ricciardo won the first McLaren race in nine years just 14 laps, some of the comments about the 32-year-old in particular in recent weeks have been far more alarming than the statistics themselves.

Photo by Chris Graythen / Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

True, you’re only as good as your last race was, and Ricciard’s start in 2022 wasn’t flawless – but he wasn’t that bad either.

Bahrain was written off for the team and better forgotten.

In Saudi Arabia, teammates were very even in the race pace unit, a technical retirement left Ricciard without points, and again they were in Australia – a tire problem left Ricciard a little down on the grid – and ended up in a race on the back line.

Emilia-Romagna followed a similar scenario, but for Ricciard’s clumsy first-round collision with Carlos Sainz, leaving him with a damaged car that couldn’t make up for the terrain.

And in Miami McLaren just couldn’t go. Ricciard’s qualifiers nullified a problem with the starter which meant he couldn’t prepare his tires for Q2 and the MCL-36 couldn’t advance on Sunday.

So, with this sober reading of Ricciardo’s McLaren record at hand, let’s consider the rumors that he, too, is destined for trash in a little more detail.

Lando excluded from Miami GP 00:57

HOW LIKELY IS IT THAT HERTA WILL USURP RICCIARD?

There has been speculation about Hertha’s move to F1 since Michael Andretti came painfully close to buying Sauber late last year. His plan was for Hertha to be his leading American driver, but the deal fell apart at 11 a.m., as did Hertha’s trip to F1.

But earlier this year McLaren signed him as a development driver with the intention of giving him experience in the 2021 car, and in recent weeks, after Ricciardo’s clumsy first-round crash in Imola, rumors have exploded with wild speculation that he was okay to replace the Aussie in 2024 or, imaginatively, as early as next season.

It is least unlikely that the debut will take place in 2023, and not just because Ricciardo will still be under contract.

Hertha has never driven a Formula 1 car in her life. It also doesn’t seem like a particularly high priority for McLaren to test it. Speaking to CEO Zak Brown Runner last month just that: “We now have a plan in place for Colton,” and that will be announced in due course.

said Herta F1 nation this week that is a specific date, but will only reveal that it will not be before June.

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But even if Hertha started collecting mileage on test days, he still wouldn’t meet the FIA’s criteria for a super license to become a permanent F1 driver.

For a super license, you must collect 40 points over three years from a recognized series of races. Hertha is 32 and does not have to finish lower than third in this year’s IndyCar Championship to reach 40 in 2023. He is currently 11th.

There is a strong argument that the IndyCar championship guarantees more points for a super license, but the FIA ​​updated the criteria just a few months ago, making an exemption or exclusion unlikely.

McLaren may have F1 size plans for Hertha, but for now they are purely theoretical.

SO WHAT DOES HE DO AT McLAREN?

Hertha’s signing a contract with McLaren raised eyebrows in March as Woking already has a talented young IndyCar driver in his books: Patricio O’Ward.

In the race for McLaren’s IndyCar team, Herta nearly beat him in 2020, his first full-time season, and beat him last year to secure an F1 test day in Abu Dhabi. Supposedly he should sign a long-term contract every day.

Hertha seems to be a surplus over McLaren’s demands.

‘It’s your job!’ | 00:47

But let’s go back to why Hertha was first mentioned as a potential F1 driver last year: his connections to Michael Andretti and her failed bid to buy Sauber.

Since the deal fell through, Andretti decided to start his own team from scratch for 2024. At the Miami Grand Prix, he said he received a positive reception from FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem, and despite some commercial hurdlesAndretti is so confident that he will get all the frames that he is already starting to hire staff.

F1 is flourishing in the United States and is eager to expand its footprint there. Entering the Andretti family into Formula 1 with a young American driver as famous as Colton Hertha would be a dunk.

And at McLaren – run by good friend and business partner Zak Brown, with whom Andretti has several racing interests, including Supercars team Walkinshaw Andretti United – he has a way to get time to sit at Hertha F1 before his potential debut.

And there’s an advantage for McLaren that doesn’t include changing the driver list.

“This year, we are required by law to test young drivers twice for free practice.” said team director Andreas Seidl, according to Motorsport.com. “That’s why we have an established process of action that we actually want to give the opportunity to be in the car for these two trainings.

“I just want to be clear once again that … we are very happy with the driver lineup we have, so yes [testing other drivers] it is fairer to comply with regulations this year. “

Indeed, Michael Andretti supported the connection and described it to Racer as one of the friends helping friends.

Police escort for Miami F1 podium! | 00:45

LOWER LINE

Previously, promise and potential did little to count in motorsport. The results say it all. And in that sense, Ricciardo, an eight-time race winner, still has power over his own destiny.

If he performs this year and parries Norris in line with his late 2021 form and his clean pace this season, it would be hard to imagine McLaren rejecting what should be one of the strongest lineups in the sport.

We have all seen what Ricciardo is capable of when fully attuned to his machinery; having it with a mature Norris would be a huge strength.

But after last year, Ricciardo was able to inform. McLaren can trust Norris in consistent deliveries so he doesn’t need an experienced partner the way the team might have thought he did when he signed with the Australian.

Brundle ‘s hilarious awkward walking on the net 01:24

And Hertha will guarantee a chance in Formula 1 if he satisfies during any testing planned for him. Any legitimate motorsport fan should want to see that such a fast and highly rated driver has a crack at the top of international motorsport – that an American, historically underrepresented in F1, is just a bonus.

Zak Brown has suggested he will begin preliminary considerations towards the end of the season.

“If (Ricciardo) keeps building, I probably won’t have that opportunity.” Herta said recently star of Indianapolis.

“Obviously I would never wish on anyone downstairs. I’m not praying for his downfall. If he’s doing well, great for him – he deserves a place.

“I guess it’s all in his hands for the future.”

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