Daniel Ricciardo’s time as a Formula 1 driver is done, at least for the time being.
The Australian said an emotional goodbye to McLaren after finishing ninth in the season finale at the Yas Marina Circuit, in what was just his seventh points finish of the season.
It has been a tough watch for fans of the Honey Badger, with the 33-year-old having endured perhaps his worst season as an F1 driver.
In fact, the last four years have offered the Australian very little to write home about, with his victory at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix being arguably the sole exception.
On that day, Ricciardo claimed McLaren’s first win since 2012, something for which the fan favourite will be heavily remembered for by the Woking-based team.
Other than that, though, the partnership with McLaren hasn’t worked, which is why his move back to Red Bull makes perfect sense.
Whilst his time at Red Bull ended with a fractious relationship following the rise of Max Verstappen at the Austrians, Ricciardo has enjoyed his best years in F1 at the energy drink-owned side.
Seven of his eight wins in F1 have come whilst driving for Red Bull, with his experience set to be a valuable addition to the Austrians range of weapons.
It was announced following the season finale that Ricciardo will be a development driver at Red Bull next season, where he’ll be carrying out several duties in regard to testing, simulator work, and marketing.
Ex-F1 driver and 2016 World Champion Nico Rosberg thinks Ricciardo was actually left with no choice but to go back to Red Bull for 2023 in a background role, with his downfall at Renault and McLaren having been “difficult to understand”.
“I think Daniel didn’t really have much of a choice [to take the reserve role],” Rosberg said on Sky Sports’ ‘Any Driven Monday‘.
“Yes he had Haas potentially but of course that’s really not what he’s striving for. He wants to be out there, competitive, really fighting for points and maybe podiums.
“It’s a difficult one with Daniel. Just two years ago he was the next World Champion, the next big thing, huge hype, and now he’s exiting the sport like that. It’s so tough.
“Difficult to understand also why he was struggling to get that performance out of the car, the performance that we’re used to seeing from him.
“He is the one who beat Sebastian Vettel in the same car, let’s remember that, over the whole season fair and square back at Red Bull.
“He is an awesome driver so strange to understand why the last two years with two completely different cars he wasn’t able to deliver, I don’t understand it.
“And of course, he’ll have a good reset now, a year out, and who knows, maybe he’ll have another chance to get back in.”