Daniel Ricciardo hints he could retire at McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo ended 2021 eighth in the drivers' standings while claiming the team's first win since 2012.

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo admits that he would prefer to be fighting at the front of the Formula 1 grid, but indicates that he may want to spend the rest of his career with the team.

The Australian struggled in his first season with the British team after signing from Renault at the end of 2020, finding himself out-qualified 15-7 by team-mate Lando Norris, with the Briton also succeeding in the race battle by the same score.

However, Ricciardo did manage to take McLaren’s first race victory since 2012 at the Italian Grand Prix, leading home Norris for their first 1-2 finish since 2010.

READ: ‘My ego is fine’: Ricciardo reveals what would have made losing to Norris ‘sadder’

It was his only podium finish of the season while the 22-year-old managed four, and he finished eighth in the Drivers’ Championship, 45 points and two positions adrift of his younger team-mate.

McLaren missed out on third to Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship as the 32-year-old’s wait for another season at the pointy end of the grid since his Red Bull departure in 2018 wears on.

The Aussie maintains that he would much rather be consistently racing for wins, but he believes in the project at the Woking-based outfit.

“It’s always like that,” Ricciardo told Auto Motor und Sport.

“Don’t get me wrong, I think that’s part of the challenge in Formula 1 and as a driver. You don’t just strive to be fast, you strive to be in the best car. But I am not in the hunt here.

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“Of course, I’ve been around a bit in the last three or four years. Because I like the environment at McLaren so much and I enjoy it so much, I really want to make this project work. I want to be here.”

Ricciardo has previously spoken of his predilection of the “family” approach at McLaren as opposed to the “tough love” environment at Red Bull, and this is one of the aspects keeping him around.

“The surroundings fit as well. I like the brand, I like the road cars. I can say that I really like being part of this company, part of the McLaren family.”

Further, the 32-year-old sees 2021 as his most challenging season yet, but the fact that he still won a race gives him optimism for the future.

“The reason why I’m not remotely thinking about another team or beyond my future is that I actually won in maybe the hardest year of my career.

“So my thought is: if I win in a year like that, what does that say about the journey ahead?

“I am definitely excited and I want to be here, possibly until the end of my career.”

McLaren are set to unveil their 2022 car on 11 February, alongside their IndyCar and Extreme-E challengers.

Daniel Ricciardo at the 2021 Qatar Grand Prix.v1

Ricciardo was asked whether the plethora of racing series on display at the McLaren Technology Centre on release day has made him ponder future exploits in other categories, but he reiterated his commitment to F1.

READ: Ricciardo: ‘Carefree attitude’ allows me to drive better

“To be honest, I haven’t thought about it [other projects] yet. But you’re right,” he stated.

“It could actually open a few doors for me after Formula 1, and be another advantage. Even as an ambassador for the brand or as a test driver for road cars. But at the moment I have my hands full with Formula 1.”

The eight-time race winner has been retained by McLaren alongside Norris for the 2022 season, which will get underway on 20 March in Bahrain.

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