‘I have to apologise’: Double F1 champion makes Daniel Ricciardo claim

Daniel Ricciardo has been replaced by Oscar Piastri at McLaren, after the team grew tired of his inability to match his teammate Lando Norris.

Daniel Ricciardo’s career has now come full circle, as the Australian finds himself back at Red Bull having left the team four years ago specifically to break away from the energy drink giants.

The 33-year-old had grown tired of the team’s decision to favour a young Max Verstappen and left Red Bull for Renault, then McLaren, in a hunt for success elsewhere.

These spells did not work out as Ricciardo would have hoped, as he was eclipsed by the performances of Lando Norris at McLaren and eventually saw his contract with the team terminated as they appointed rookie Oscar Piastri in his place.

The Australian will spend 2023 with Red Bull serving as their third driver to complete promotional tasks and simulator work to take some of the weight off of the shoulders of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

READ: Red Bull admit Max Verstappen played role in Alex Albon’s downfall

While Ricciardo claims that this year with Red Bull is all a part of his plan to return to the grid with a top team in the future, two-time world champion Mika Hakkinen, who took a year away from the sport himself, has suggested that Ricciardo has actually been ‘kicked out’ of Formula 1.

“I left Formula 1 in 2001. I was two times world champion and I had a chance to have a sabbatical year,” Hakkinen told Top Gear.

“He is leaving Formula 1, unfortunately, when he is kicked out.

“So if you have a sabbatical and you want to come back, how can you prove you can be better? How can you prove that you are a faster driver than ever? There’s a young generation, rookies coming to Formula 1 – can you prove ‘I’m quicker than them?’

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“I have to apologise, I sound so negative. But it’s a reality and it’s a very challenging situation for him. But everybody I think in this paddock likes him. He’s a very nice person, with a great sense of humour. Fans like him. But unfortunately teams like McLaren, they want to have a winner.”

Ricciardo’s shock victory in Monza back in 2021 unfortunately proved to be a false dawn for the 33-year-old, as Norris continued to significantly outperform and outscore him, leaving McLaren with no choice but to replace their fan-favourite driver.

Red Bull have claimed that a race seat with the team is off the cards for Ricciardo despite rumours suggesting otherwise, leaving the Australian to hunt for a return to the grid elsewhere.