Oscar Piastri reveals Daniel Ricciardo gesture

Oscar Piastri will replace Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren next season and has chosen to use the number 81 on his car.

It would be easy to understand why Daniel Ricciardo wouldn’t want to talk to Oscar Piastri, with the 21-year-old obviously taking the 33-year-old’s place at McLaren next season.

However, it appears the outgoing driver has once again demonstrated the “true professional” that he is.

It had been rumoured for a large chunk of the 2022 season that Ricciardo would be replaced by Piastri for 2023, despite the Honey Badger being contracted for next season.

With just 17 points finishes from his 38 appearances for the Woking-based outfit, it’s easy to see why McLaren and the Aussie have decided to part ways.

With Ricciardo’s future now looking unbelievably uncertain and given how the Piastri deal appears to have been done behind his back, Ricciardo would have every right to not want to talk to the 2021 F2 World Champion.

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However, the complete opposite has actually happened, as Piastri revealed that his Australian compatriot actually got in contact with him and his manager, ex-F1 driver Mark Webber, to let him know that there were “no hard feelings”.

“I was planning on getting in touch myself, but with the timing of things, he was obviously at races, quite frankly I didn’t know if he wanted to hear from me,” Piastri told the Fast Lane podcast. 

“I was trying to think of what to say, but he beat me to it. That was a true professional, my respect for him was already extremely high and it’s only got higher in the way he’s responded.

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“Him getting in touch like that, that was great for me personally, knowing that there were no hard feelings. That really helps me quite a lot, and it was good to get in touch.

“It was a nice moment. If I can get close to emulating the success he’s had on track and the character he is off the track, I think I’ll be doing a reasonable job.”

It is no shock that Ricciardo is as loved by fans as he is, with the way he’s dealt with the Piastri situation further proof of that.

The soon-to-be McLaren driver has revealed that he’ll use the number 81 in the pinnacle of motorsport, a number he’s used since his karting days.

“So 81 was the number I had in karting,” he said.

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“The story of how I got 81 is not particularly interesting, but I’ll explain it anyway.

“Basically, when I did my first race, I had to pick a number for my first race and the kart shop I went to only had number ones in stock. It had to be a one or two-digit number and I obviously couldn’t be number one for obvious reasons. So I was actually number 11, for my first couple of races.

“Then we entered, I think it was the Victorian state titles, and somebody had already entered as number 11. So I don’t know what inspired me to pick 81. But I changed the first one for a number eight, and it’s stuck ever since.”