Just when it looked like things couldn’t get much worse for Daniel Ricciardo, they did, as the Australian languished round at the back of the field throughout the United States Grand Prix.
The upbeat and bubbly Ricciardo that was seen on Thursday morning was long gone by the end of the race at the Circuit of the Americas, with the 33-year-old instead looking dejected, despondent, and crucially, ready for a year on the side-lines.
Ricciardo went into the weekend with high hopes but qualifying on Saturday brought the much-loved driver back down to Earth, after he qualified P17.
The outgoing McLaren driver started P16 as a result of a grid penalty for Zhou Guanyu, which is ultimately where the Honey Badger finished.
He did have a good on-track battle at the back with Williams’ equally struggling Nicholas Latifi, in what was actually an exciting bit of side-by-side racing.
Fans, on the other hand, were quick to note their disbelief that the duo were fighting in the first place, given the fact that Ricciardo is an eight-time F1 winner and a former Red Bull driver.
One user on Twitter wrote: “Ricciardo was beefing with Latifi. Idk what to say at this point.”
The clip of the battle they attached is actually a good watch, considering they were fighting for last.
Ricciardo was seen looking like a stranger in the media pen, with the disappointment clearly getting to the point now where the conclusion of the season can’t come soon enough.
The 2021 Italian Grand Prix winner struggled with grip throughout the race, with the driver admitting he “couldn’t really push the car.”
“I hoped today was going to be better,” Ricciardo said in McLaren’s post-race press release.
“I really thought after yesterday we had a bit more to show but it was really tough today. I could tell from early on in the race that it was going to be tricky. We unfortunately just didn’t have the grip. I couldn’t really push the car like I could see the others around me doing, so it was just a struggle.
“We’ll keep our chin up and try to find a way. Obviously, days like this are pretty painful to try to deal with and understand as we put a lot of effort in but didn’t get rewarded. We’ll keep going.”
A possible return to Red Bull is at least something positive for the Australian to take away from Austin, despite denying reports that he’s agreed a deal with an unnamed team to be their reserve driver for 2023.
Sky Sports journalist Ted Kravitz revealed the team aren’t Mercedes, with Red Bull predicted to be the side he’s signed for.