Daniel Ricciardo has admitted that his two-year stint with McLaren simply “didn’t work out”, with his terminated contract having actually been a “blessing in disguise”.
Ricciardo joined McLaren from Renault in 2021, with his deal having expired at the end of 2023.
2021 wasn’t the greatest of seasons but it was by no means the worst, especially has he claimed his eighth race victory at the Italian Grand Prix that season.
Many hoped that Ricciardo’s win at Monza would reignite his career; however, the complete opposite happened.
2022 was woeful for the 34-year-old, who failed to show his typical bubbly self.
His poor performances ultimately resulted in his deal for 2023 being terminated, as McLaren had signed Oscar Piastri on a two-year deal.
It left Ricciardo without a seat for this year, although he recognises that it was a positive for him as he needed to “re-find my love for the sport”.
The fan favourite therefore returned to Red Bull in a driver development role, where he managed to rediscover his speed and his love of racing.
As a result of working so well in his role, he was chosen by the Austrians as Nyck de Vries’ replacement at AlphaTauri following the British Grand Prix, with him now having been given a deal to continue with the sister side in 2024.
Ricciardo admits that he “never” wanted his time with McLaren to end in his deal being terminated, although ne now recognises that it was actually the best thing for him, as he’s had the time to get back to being the person he wants to be.
“It’s never the way you want to end something,” Ricciardo told Goodwood. “Obviously, the results weren’t there.
“I’m a pretty easy-going guy, I got on with the team, and I didn’t fall out with anyone in the team, but it’s all performance-based and, let’s say, the business side of it didn’t work out.
“At the time, it was a bit of a harsh reality getting fired, but by the end of the season, when I got home for Christmas, I was like, ‘okay, it probably doesn’t help my reputation’, but at that point, I didn’t care anymore. It was a blessing in disguise.
“I needed to step away for a bit, to re-find myself, re-find my love for the sport. If it could have been done in a better way, fine, but at the same time, I don’t think me finishing out the contract this year would have done me any favours.
“I guess, in a way, I thank them for making that decision because we were in a bit of a hole, and I’m not sure we could have got out of it.”