Daniel Ricciardo opens up in sad new revelation about exit from McLaren

The former McLaren driver's sad admission comes after an underwhelming two years with the F1 team.

Pictured right is McLaren F1 boss Zak Brown and the team's former driver Daniel Ricciardo on the left.

Daniel Ricciardo has shed more light on his ill-fated experience with McLaren, after admitting his disappointing spell at the Formula One team left him questioning his own abilities. Ricciardo spent two underwhelming seasons with McLaren before being moved on with one year still remaining on his lucrative contract.

Ricciardo was replaced at McLaren by Aussie compatriot Oscar Piastri and has since returned to former team Red Bull as a reserve driver. The Aussie sits behind Red Bull stars Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez - currently first and second in the F1 drivers' standings respectively - but revealed last week that he hopes to back on the grid in 2024.

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The 33-year-old effectively went backwards in his two-year stint at McLaren after finishing eighth in the drivers’ standings in 2021 and 11th the following year in 2022. Ricciardo was plagued by engine troubles and struggled for consistently at McLaren, with a rare high point coming in a 2021 victory at the Italian GP, which was the eighth race win of his career.

Ricciardo managed more podium places during his two-year stint at Renault, before making the jump to McLaren. The Aussie's team boss Zak Brown admitted that the Aussie's struggles at McLaren were a "great mystery" before he ultimately decided to replace the veteran driver with Piastri, after agreeing on a payout of more than $20 million.

Speaking about his disappointing two years with McLaren after moving back to Red Bull - where he managed a couple of third-placed finishes in the F1 championship - Ricciardo said the sorry saga had left him plagued with self-doubt.

“I’ll always take some responsibility or accountability,” Ricciardo said per “For many years, I truly believed I was the best, and I am the best in the world, so whatever the situation, I’ll be able to overcome it.

“And obviously with McLaren it was tough for me to do that. So yeah, I was aware that I’m not the perfect driver, I do have weaknesses, so I’ll always hold something on to myself.”

Ricciardo admits he perhaps should have done things differently at McLaren, including holding the team to greater account over the performance of his car. “Having a bit of a chance to remove myself from it and now looking back on the last two years, I would have done things differently if I had that time again, or maybe ask more questions or been a little bit more demanding,” he added.

“But you also live and you learn, so I don’t look back with regret. That was a situation and I got through it.”

Seen here, Red Bull reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo looking on during the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park in 2023.
Red Bull reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo looks on during the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park in 2023. Pic: Getty

Daniel Ricciardo's confidence rocked at McLaren

The Aussie star - whose confidence and charisma have been hallmarks of a glittering career in F1 - says the experience at McLaren left him psychologically scarred and feeling "timid" when he made the move back to Red Bull. Ricciardo admits his crisis of confidence was evident when he first started doing simulator work for Red Bull.

“And now, getting back into Red Bull, I felt as well I was certainly a little bit... my confidence was probably not what it used to be as well,” he said. “Even I was a little bit probably timid getting into the simulator, trying to downplay how it was going to go.

“But as the day went on, the more comfortable I felt, and the more it just felt like I was kind of back home in a car that I honestly felt comfortable with. So yeah, let’s say everything felt like it was pretty recharged after that first day.”

Ricciardo was conspicuously absent from the grid at the Australian Grand Prix earlier this month, with F1 commentator Ted Kravitz admitting it was "sad" to see him without a ride. Kravitz ran into Ricciardo during a roaming TV segment and said to the Aussie: “Just a tip. I’m not sure you look good on the pit wall."

The Aussie has indicated he'd love to return to a full-time drive in 2024, but not for just anyone. “One thing I want to get out of this year is, yes, I want to know what I want, but I also know what I don't want,” Ricciardo said. “And I think I can already answer that.

“I don’t want to go back to ground zero. I don’t want to just be on the grid to be on the grid and struggle in 18th place. I don’t want to be on the grid at all costs or at any cost.

“I also know myself that yes, it’s harder to then just jump straight into a top team in terms of availability, but I know that that’s where I want to be. I thrive in those situations when there is more on the line and I think at this point in my career, that real hunger and motivation to race at the front, that’s all I really want."

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