McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo has not yet figured out what he will do next after it was confirmed that he will be leaving McLaren at the end of this season.
The Australian signed off from Renault at the end of 2020 with two podiums under his belt before moving to the British side to partner Lando Norris last year.
It looked as though things were going to start well when he out-qualified the 22-year-old in the season-opener in Bahrain, but it quickly became apparent that the tricky McLaren car was going to take some getting used to.
In the end, the 33-year-old found himself struggling to adapt to life in Woking, and he was out-qualified 15-7 by Norris last year, with the Briton coming out on top by the same score in race trim.
Norris bagged points 20 times over the course of the season, as well as four podiums, while the former Red Bull man ended in the top 10 13 times.
However, there was a ray of light for the Australian, a sign that the good times might eventually roll, when he won the Italian Grand Prix and claimed McLaren’s first victory since 2012.
This was one of a few highlights that the now eight-time race winner has enjoyed with the team but, this year especially, he has been faced with a car that simply does not suit him.
Ricciardo has added another four points finishes to Norris’ 11 this year, and strong performances in Baku and Canada have been surrounded by disappointing ones in Imola, Spain, Silverstone and Hungary.
After public criticism from CEO Zak Brown, there was only really one way this was headed, and the eight-time champions announced on Wednesday that they have mutually agreed to part ways with Ricciardo at the end of this season.
The 32-time podium finisher confirmed that it was the team’s decision to end things, and he agreed after enduring a painful partnership that everyone involved tried their hardest to make work.
“Hey everyone, wanted to share some news, it’s not great,” he said in a video posted onto social media.
“Bittersweet for sure but I think it’s best you hear it from me: 2022 will be my last year with McLaren.
“Obviously we put in a lot of effort on both sides but it just hasn’t worked the way we wanted so the team has decided to make a change for next year.
“We had a lot of discussions but in the end we mutually agreed it was the right thing for both of us.”
As for where he will land after his McLaren adventure comes to an end, Ricciardo is still piecing that together.
“I will continue to do the rest of this year, absolutely, and I’ll continue to give it my all,” he added.
“For the future, what lies ahead, (I’m) not sure yet, but we will see.”
Despite the hardships, the Perth-born racer has a lot of happy moments to look back on from his two seasons with the team.
“I look back on this time with McLaren, I look back with a smile,” affirmed Ricciardo.
“I learned a lot about myself, I think things that will help me for the next step in my career but I think just in general, in life.
“I think… from a results point of view, for sure, to consistently get the results and that form that I was after, it wasn’t always there and it made some weekends tough.
“I felt those, absolutely, but I also have many happy memories of my time at the team and I think about Monza, I think about standing on the top step.
“I think about bringing the team their first win since 2012, that sort of stuff was awesome and to see the smile on everyone’s faces, to just be in that moment, that’s something I’ll never forget.
“So, yeah, there’s a lot of good stuff to take from this as well.
“The sport… I still love it, this hasn’t affected any of that, I still have that fire in me, that belief in my belly that I can do this at the highest level.
“So yeah, all that stuff’s still there, but yeah, just want to say I appreciate everyone’s support through the highs, lows, everything in between.
“This isn’t it for me, but yeah we’ll see what lies ahead.”
Alpine reserve Oscar Piastri is expected to sign as Ricciardo’s replacement after turning down a promotion from the French side.
The move could see Ricciardo move the other way and head back to Enstone, but it has also been reported that Haas boss Guenther Steiner has made him an offer to drive for the American team.