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Formula 1

How Ricciardo came close to Le Mans-winning drive

by Edd Straw
3 min read

Daniel Ricciardo will link up with team principal Andreas Seidl when he joins McLaren next year, but the pair first came close to working together in 2015 when the Australian was in contention to join the Porsche Le Mans 24 Hours line-up.

Porsche entered a third Porsche 919 Hybrid for the blue-riband sportscar race that year, with then-Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg teaming up with Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy to win Le Mans, having also participated in the Spa World Endurance Championship round as a warm-up.

Nico Hulkenberg, Porsche, Le Mans 24 Hours

But Porsche also held talks with other F1 drivers during the course of 2014, including Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso, neither of which got permission from Red Bull and Honda respectively to take up the place that eventually went to Hulkenberg.

“We had some conversations back in the days,” said Seidl when asked by The Race about the possibility of Ricciardo landing the Porsche drive for 2015.

“Unfortunately, he didn’t get the permission at that time to join the project. I think that would have been an interesting experience for us but also for him. And the car he was supposed to drive actually won Le Mans.

“Daniel was always a driver I was following throughout his entire F1 career. I always liked his performance on track but also the way he comes across as a person outside of the car with his positivity, which is something that is very important for me also to have within the team.

Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris, F1

“I’m simply happy that it finally worked out for next year and I’m looking forward to him joining us in January.”

Ricciardo mentioned the Porsche possibility in a press conference ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend when asked about the prospect of working with Seidl at McLaren next year.

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Ricciardo was questioned about his experience of previous team bosses and what he hopes to learn from working with Seidl at McLaren, which led to him referencing the earlier discussions that could have led to him having a shot at Le Mans victory.

At the time the Porsche talks took place, Ricciardo was enjoying a stellar first season with Red Bull – having been promoted from Toro Rosso, winning three races and often outperforming four-times world champion team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, F1 2014

“There’s been some characters, but actually, I genuinely feel like I’ve learned from all of them and tried to benefit from their traits as bosses,” said Ricciardo.

“Particularly when you’re young, you need to rely on experienced people, people who have been in the sport for longer and try to learn their lessons and be a bit of a sponge.

“I guess I’m stubborn in some ways, but in terms of learning and wanting to keep developing for myself, I don’t feel I’ve ever been stubborn and that’s helped to learn from these guys.

“Andreas is a guy that I do really look forward to working with. I was first in contact with him I think back in 2014. There was a bit of a push to try and do Le Mans at the time with Porsche and there was a little bit of small talks.

“But I’ve heard people who have worked with him speak very highly and I’m looking forward to that. I’ll keep being a sponge and trying to make myself better.”

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