Felipe Massa has urged close friend Daniel Ricciardo to forget about talks over his McLaren future and focus on “finding happiness” at the wheel of his MCL36.
The Australian driver has endured a difficult start to the 2022 season, and has so far failed to improve on a challenging first 12 months as Lando Norris’ teammate.
His struggles have not been helped by mounting speculation regarding his future. Speaking to Sky Sports F1 ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, Zak Brown made clear, publicly, that Ricciardo was not meeting expectations.
But Massa, who himself endured turbulent times with Ferrari, says it is crucial that McLaren ensure their driver is feeling happy and comfortable at the team, and not fearing for his future.
“I think sometimes we need to see his smile again,” said Massa, speaking to F1 TV.
“He needs to enjoy it. I had a time at Ferrari where it was tricky. In every moment, something goes wrong and you can’t concentrate in the right way, maybe you’re not relaxed and happy.
“You need to be happy, you need to enjoy your relationship with the team. He needs to get the smile back and enjoy [racing].”
Massa tells Ricciardo: Forget about McLaren talks
Ricciardo only added to speculation that a McLaren exit may be on the horizon when he revealed that talks will be taking place in the future, although he admitted he did not know when.
Massa believes that these discussions should not be on Ricciardo’s mind, with the driver better placed to focus on finding his happy place and elevating his on-track performance.
“When you are at Daniel Ricciardo’s level, he’s an amazing driver at an unbelievable level, you cannot be worried about these talks,” continued Massa.
“These talks are small compared to what you can do on the track, so you need to concentrate on what you do on the track.
“Whether he has a contract for next year or not, it doesn’t matter. You need to put that inside, this is not a problem to worry [about].
“The problem is different, it’s understanding how to be happy and how to enjoy [racing].
“[He needs to] leave all of those things [aside], get back to racing and get back to happiness.”