The full story behind Drive to Survive, Ricciardo and Alpine
By Mat Coch
Saturday 25th February, 2023 - 6:00am
The turmoil surrounding Daniel Ricciardo and his departure from McLaren features prominently in the latest season of Drive to Survive.
Released on Friday, the new edition of the Netflix series follows Formula 1 throughout the 2022 season.
Ricciardo’s flagging fortunes proved a key storyline throughout the campaign, as did the contractual scuffle over Oscar Piastri.
The net result was McLaren and Ricciardo mutually agreeing to end their relationship a year early, opening the door to Piastri to don a papaya race suit this year.
Drive to Survive details, to an extent, that period of upheaval, capturing an exchange between McLaren Racing boss Zak Brown and Alpine’s Laurent Rossi, who was a central figure in the Piastri saga.
“I feel like I can help. Let’s close this thing out,” McLaren’s Brown is heard telling Rossi.
“I’d love to see him here [at Alpine],” the Frenchman commented. “But that’s only because I’d love to see him stay in the sport.”
The comments have sparked suggestions that Ricciardo was on the verge of joining Alpine after his ousting from McLaren.
After losing both Fernando Alonso and Piastri, the Enstone operation had a vacancy to fill, with Ricciardo the highest-profile driver available.
Well-placed sources, however, have told Speedcafe.com that Ricciardo was not interested in returning to his former team.
Indeed, there were considerations about whether he would call time on his F1 career, but the eight-time race winner was not ready to make that decision.
So while there was contact with Alpine, serious discussions never took place, and one can understand why.
In the midst of the biggest crisis of his career, and at a time when self-doubt had crept in, Ricciardo wanted stability, familiarity, and a degree of comfort.
Alpine is today a markedly different team to that for which he had driven just two years earlier.
Rossi has arrived as CEO, and Otmar Szafnauer as team principal, replacing Cyril Abiteboul at the helm of the team.
It is not an environment that fits the headspace Ricciardo was in.
There was a similar mentality towards Guenther Steiner and Haas.
Steiner made public his interest in the Australian’s services and in Drive to Survive is heard discussing his potential signing with Kevin Magnussen.
“He wants 10 f***ing million [dollars],” Steiner exclaimed.
Speedcafe.com, however, understands Ricciardo’s market value was comfortably short of that figure, suggesting Steiner was operating either on an assumption or with second-hand information.
Money was not the motivating factor for Ricciardo, who had placed his own mental well-being above his desire to compete in Formula 1.
His focus was on rekindling his passion for the sport, and to do that he felt the needed to take his foot off the gas and step out of the competition.
That meant a reserve or third driver role, and discussions were held with multiple teams at the top end of the pit lane.
Those with Red Bull quickly gathered steam and a contract was signed on the Sunday morning of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last November.
No matter the narrative Drive to Survive may offer, Alpine was never an option for Ricciardo, nor was the asking price quoted by Steiner close to the mark.
Ricciardo wanted something neither could offer, but Red Bull could – comfort, belonging, and familiarity – a place where he could feel valued and in turn bring value without the extreme pressure racing attracts.
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