Daniel Ricciardo defends McLaren decision

McLaren and Daniel Ricciardo failed to make their partnership work across two seasons, leading to the Australian driver’s departure.

Daniel Ricciardo joined McLaren in 2021, partnering Lando Norris at the Papaya outfit in the hope of renewing his career following a winless stint at Renault.

Despite a victory in his maiden season for the team at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, Ricciardo failed to compete with his teammate in the Drivers’ Standings.

2022 marked an even tougher season for Ricciardo, as he experienced three retirements and a season best of fifth place at the Singaporean Grand Prix. 

Ricciardo’s inability to find his place behind the wheel of the car was described as Formula 1’s “great mystery” by McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown.

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Having been critical of Ricciardo’s performance, Brown eventually chose to end the Australian’s contract early, putting his faith in Formula 1 rookie Oscar Piastri for the 2023 season.

“I’ll always take some responsibility or accountability,” Ricciardo said.  

“For many years, I truly believed I was the best, and I am the best in the world, so whatever the situation, I’ll be able to overcome it.

“And obviously with McLaren it was tough for me to do that.  

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“So yeah, I was aware that I’m not the perfect driver, I do have weaknesses, so I’ll always hold something on to myself.  

“Having a bit of a chance to remove myself from it and now looking back on the last two years, I would have done things differently if I had that time again, or maybe ask more questions or been a little bit more demanding.  

“But you also live and you learn, so I don’t look back with regret. That was a situation and I got through it,” he continued.

Ricciardo hasn’t given up hopes of a return to the Formula 1 grid, spending the 2023 season as a reserve driver for Red Bull Racing. 

Returning to his old team has helped the Australia feel “recharged,” as he looks to regain his confidence in the sport.

“Getting back into Red Bull, I felt as well I was certainly a little bit…my confidence was probably not what it used to be as well,” he explained.  

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“Even I was a little bit probably timid getting into the simulator, trying to downplay how it was going to go.

“But as the day went on, the more comfortable I felt, and the more it just felt like I was kind of back home in a car that I honestly felt comfortable with.  

“So yeah, let’s say everything felt like it was pretty recharged after that first day.”