McLaren team boss Zak Brown recently said there were “mechanisms” in Ricciardo’s contract which implied he could be released before its intended end, with rumours around the Australian’s seat mounting particularly after Sergio Perez signed an extension at Red Bull, meaning Pierre Gasly could be looking elsewhere.
Ricciardo however claimed that certain statements such as Brown’s had been lost in translation, as he reiterated his security within the team.
“We’ve had a catch up but I think nothing needed to be elaborated on it,” he said. “I think sometimes I’m guilty of it as well, getting caught up in the media and not always kind of making total sense of things – and I just like to talk!
“I wasn’t surprised [by Brown’s statement] I kind of become a little bit immune to media and I think being in the sport for so long, we do more and more as we go through the years. So, I don’t really take it for its full value or worth all the time.
“At the end of the day, I know the facts between us. My contract’s clear with the team till the end of next year. I’m fully committed, have certainly voiced that and it’s obviously now just [down to me] on track to show what I’m capable of.”
However, despite the serenity behind the scenes which Ricciardo insists is there, the huge task of getting on top of the MCL36 remains.
“Some of the things the car did last year, it still does”
“It certainly has its challenges,” he said. “But I think it’s about stripping it back to the core of what I can do. I still believe I have it and it’s not like a it’s not a place of like low confidence or low self esteem.
“Everything [in F1] operates at such a high level – and if something’s a little bit out of tune, then it can have a bit of a kind of carry on effect.
“[Good form] could come at any circuit and I think from then it will probably start to build again – some nice rhythm like the second half of last year. I just need get back to that place and it’s not as far away as it probably seems.”
Ricciardo won at Baku for Red Bull in 2017, in F1’s previous generation of cars. Questioned whether this shift to a new aerodynamic philosophy was hurting him, the Australian said it wasn’t the issue, and that some inherent problems for him with McLaren’s design were still there.
“It’s a massive sabotage!” he began by joking. “Even with the changes this year, there’s certainly still some things carrying over from from last year’s car – some of the things the car did last year, it still does.
“It’s still [about] trying to get on top of that. It’s a place where I didn’t really find these issues maybe in the past, and that’s why it’s something a little bit new or unfamiliar for me.”
Perhaps needing luck on his side as much as anything in current form, Ricciardo said he would be open to a bit of jeopardy in a race favouring the brave, similar to his 2017 Baku win.
“I’d welcome everything,” the Australian said. “2017 was one of the most crazy races I was ever involved in, so I welcome that.”