Daniel Ricciardo may have won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015 but was blocked from participating by Red Bull, Porsche’s former endurance racing boss has revealed.
Andreas Seidl — who is now McLaren’s team principal — targeted Ricciardo at the end of 2014, saying he “wasn’t sure” the Australian would “make it” in Formula One.
“So I wanted to give him a way out and give him an opportunity in an LMP car,” Seidl joked on the Beyond The Grid podcast ahead of the F1 season opener.
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But a deal for Ricciardo fell through because his then employer, Red Bull, wouldn’t allow him to compete in the legendary race, which falls in the middle of the F1 season.
“I knew he was interested in doing it but at the time it didn’t work out because he didn’t get allowance from Red Bull because (2014) was his first year being at Red Bull and Red Bull wanted at the time his full focus on the (F1) project,” Seidl told the podcast.
“At the time I followed quite closely what he was doing in the different cars he was in already at the time and I always admired his on and off-track performance.”
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Porsche instead signed Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, who competed in two rounds of the 2015 WEC season.
One of those races was at Le Mans, which he won with Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber.
Hulkenberg was the first full-time F1 driver to win the race since Johnny Herbert and Bertrand Gachot in 1991.
Seidl has finally joined forces with Ricciardo, with the pair linking up at McLaren for the 2021 F1 season.
It’s a partnership a long time in the making after Seidl’s failed recruitment attempt in 2014, and that of McLaren CEO Zak Brown, who tried to sign Ricciardo from Red Bull after 2018.
“It didn’t work out that time but… I’m just happy now that it worked out,” Seidl said.