Daniel Ricciardo opens up: ‘I’m in fear of losing it’

Daniel Ricciardo has been confirmed as Red Bull's development driver for 2023, following his McLaren exit.

With his dire two-year spell at McLaren officially complete, Daniel Ricciardo has reflected on the challenges he’s faced and why a sabbatical from full-time racing in 2023 is the best thing for him.

It hasn’t just been a challenging two years for the fan favourite but a troublesome four years, where he’s largely under-performed at both Renault and McLaren.

McLaren in particular has been a relationship that just hasn’t clicked overall, with his shock victory at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix being the sole exception of when everything fell perfectly into place.

Other than his somewhat brotherly relationship with Lando Norris, nothing else has gone the Australian driver’s way in the last two years, who has predominantly been in the 23-year-old’s shadow.

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In 2022 alone, Norris has claimed 17 points finishes from the 22 races this year, while Ricciardo has claimed just seven.

It highlights why the Woking-based team needed to part ways with the eight-time GP winner, should they wish to progress into the top four.

Had Norris been partnered by an equally strong team-mate, then the papaya side would’ve likely claimed P4 in the Constructors’ Championship with ease, given Alpine’s reliability woes.

Of course, Ricciardo is taking a sabbatical next year and will be re-joining Red Bull as a development driver, something that will see him back in an environment where he’s enjoyed considerable success.

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Whether it results in a 2024 seat is a future question; however, there is no doubt that he’ll be in a great position to do so.

Ricciardo has recently revealed that his sabbatical comes after feeling “fear” of falling out of love with Formula 1, something that has left him wanting to “step away” from it.

“As the second half of the season went on, I just needed to step away for a bit, rebuild myself, reset a bit, and also just find the intense love for it,” he told Speedcafe.

“Because, at this level, if you don’t have that, then I’m not doing justice for myself or anyone around me.

“I’m not saying I’ve lost it, but I’m in fear of losing it.”

Ricciardo added on this feeling of being “in fear”, where he admitted that F1 drivers are also susceptible of feeling “tired, exhausted, and fatigued”.

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“Yes, [F1 drivers] are really good at what we do, but we’re also still human and we still get tired, exhausted, fatigued,” Ricciardo added.

“And at this level of sport, that is dangerous – you can’t be operating at 99 percent, even.

“So I really felt I was in fear of not being at my best if I did another year.”