MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 07: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and McLaren walks in the Paddock prior to final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at the Miami International Autodrome on May 07, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Daniel Ricciardo “needs his smile back”: Massa

Felipe Massa believes a smile on Daniel Ricciardo’s face will be key in helping the Australian relinquish his poor form.

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The McLaren driver has been heavily criticised for his performances in 2022, picking up only one set of points so far this season. The pressure and media scrutiny grow with every mistake that Ricciardo makes.

Comments from the McLaren CEO Zak Brown admitting there are “mechanisms” in Ricciardo’s contract which could see him depart the team next year have not helped his driver either.

The constant negativity has appeared to cause a downward spiral, which any professional athlete will tell you, is difficult to escape from.

Whilst it may appear to be all doom and gloom for the Australian, former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa says smiling and enjoying the process is key for the Honey Badger to get to competing where he belongs.

The Brazilian analysed DR3’s performance in Monaco after the race and likened Ricciardo’s experiences to his own at Ferrari.

“We need to see him smile again, he needs to enjoy [racing],” said Massa to F1 TV.

“I had also a time at Ferrari that was tricky, it looks like every moment something wrong happens and then you cannot concentrate in the right way, maybe you are not relaxed and happy.

Massa believes the proof is in the pudding, comparing Mercedes driver George Russell’s attitude to Ricciardo’s.

“George Russell was saying [in Monaco] ‘I’m happy, I’m enjoying, things are easy’.

“You need to be happy, you need to enjoy the relationship with the team.

“And maybe he is just needing to get the smile back and enjoy.”

Public Pressure
Daniel Ricciardo at Monza
Daniel Ricciardo & Zak Brown in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Dan Istitene)

Although your boss making public comments about your contract mechanisms may seem like a reason for worry, Massa says the Australian’s skills and talent are enough to silence the off-track fiascos.

“I think when you are at the level of Daniel Ricciardo, he’s an amazing driver, the level he has as a driver is really high, he’s unbelievable, so he cannot be worried for this talk,” said Massa.

“Because this talk is small compared to what he can do on the track, so you need to concentrate on what you need to do on the track.

“You don’t need to concentrate on ‘if I have the contract or not for next year’, it doesn’t matter.

“You need to put that [aside]. This is not the problem to worry [about], the problem is different, it is to understand how to be happy and how to enjoy, to give the result.”

Ricciardo’s hunt for consistency in his MCL36 will continue on the 12th of June when Formula One travels to Baku for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

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