Daniel Ricciardo admits perk of leaving McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo's streak of having started 232 races will come to an end at the season-opening race of the year in Bahrain.

Daniel Ricciardo is set for a fascinating 2023 campaign, with the 33-year-old set to take part in several activities throughout the year as part of his new role at Red Bull.

After having his 2023 contract at McLaren terminated, Ricciardo finds himself back with Red Bull for the forthcoming season as a development driver, with the fan favourite set to play a huge role in the Austrians marketing campaigns.

Red Bull is seemingly Ricciardo’s Formula 1 home, with the Aussie having claimed seven victories for the Milton Keynes-based outfit from 2014-2018.

Despite this, though, he didn’t ever think about returning to Red Bull when he was told of his unfortunate fate at McLaren, due to having suddenly been overwhelmed by “panic thoughts”.

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“At first, it definitely wasn’t,” Ricciardo admitted to Beyond the Flag.

“At first, it was probably a bit more like a panic, in a way. It’s like, oh my gosh, what do I do now? What’s next? What does this mean? So it’s kind of all these more like panic thoughts.

“It’s something that, I guess like anything, if you’re not fully prepared for it, then it catches you a little bit off guard and you’re a bit surprised. I wouldn’t say I went into a frenzy, but it sends you into a bit of a frenzy.”

Ricciardo has revealed himself that he’ll likely only be at a dozen races in 2023, with the Australian driver wanting to make the most of his year off.

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Had he wanted to remain on the grid then he could’ve potentially switched to the likes of Haas, who were reportedly interested in the star.

However, Ricciardo admits that he came to the conclusion that he “wanted a year off”, something which made him realise that returning to Red Bull was the best place to spend it.

“I think after, let’s say, a month played out and I was talking to some other teams, I was kind of like, I knew deep down I wasn’t really there,” he continued.

“I was like, am I just doing this to stay on the grid? Is it truly what I want? So then when I was kind of more honest about it to myself, I actually think I wanted a year off.

“That’s when it was kind of like the lightbulb and it was like Red Bull is that place. Their interest [in me] as well – it happened very quickly. We were both just like, this makes sense.

“I think for me having some of that comfort, going back to a place that was familiar for me after obviously a difficult couple years, it was just like – yeah! It got done very quickly. It seemed very obvious once it hit us.”

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The first perk of not racing this season for Ricciardo is that he’s going to attend this weekend’s Super Bowl, something he’s always wanted to do.

“I’m going to be there next week, which is really cool!” said Ricciardo.

“That’s another little perk of, yes, I’m not racing this year, but the upside is I will get to do some fun things which deep down I’ve wanted to, I guess, for a long time and scratch some itches. Super Bowl! It will be fun.”