Daniel Ricciardo's telling admission after final F1 race for McLaren

·5-min read
Seen here, Daniel Ricciardo smiles during his emotional McLaren farewell at the Abu Dhabi GP.
Daniel Ricciardo gave a philosophical response to his emotional McLaren farewell at the Abu Dhabi GP. Pic: Getty

Daniel Ricciardo has demonstrated his class with a superb response to his emotional final race for McLaren at Formula One's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Ricciardo finished in the points during a final race that saw two-time world champion Max Verstappen claim a record-extending 15th win in a stellar 2022 season.

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Verstappen dominated from start to finish to clinch his third straight Abu Dhabi victory in a race that also spelled the end of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel's distinguished career.

Ricciardo and Vettel shared a nice embrace after the Grand Prix, having fought in a tense battle for ninth position - ultimately claimed by the Aussie - on the final lap in Abu Dhabi.

Opening up to reporters after his final race for McLaren, Ricciardo poured his heart out about some of the difficulties he had endured in 2022 - ultimately culminating in the 33-year-old being pushed out of the team for 2023, in favour of compatriot, Oscar Piastri.

“There were certainly some races where I felt more comfortable, Ricciardo said. "The difficulty, the struggle was what encouraged me and then all of a sudden, a week later, we were back where we were. The inconsistency, the unknown, was what made it so tricky but I am happy to have had a few nice [races] since the summer break.”

Ricciardo could be forgiven for harbouring bitter feelings about his time with McLaren but instead chose to focus on the importance of having "perspective" by reminding himself that it's a privilege to do something for a living that brings him so much joy.

“It is so easy to get caught up in competition. We devote so much time to it and when it is not going well you can so easily get angry, frustrated and bitter. Get so many negative emotions towards something you truly love," Ricciardo said.

“Perspective allowed me to maintain happiness and appreciation. You have your days but is a privilege to do what we love – it is such a fun sport. The surroundings, the travel, all the people we meet. Whatever you do in life, gratitude helps you move forward a lot.”

The Aussie driver confirmed after the race that he would be taking some time off in 2023, while all but confirming reports he's "highly likely" rejoin Red Bull as a reserve driver next year.

“I can’t say 100 per cent until things are signed off but that is certainly what is closest now,” he added.

Ricciardo suggested that being part of all 24 races scheduled for the F1 in 2023 is not something he's interested in.

“Otherwise, I may as well be on the grid somewhere," he added. "I made it clear that I need some time off for myself to get away a little bit. But I’ll be around and try to stay involved.”

Max Verstappen signs off in 'sublime' fashion

Verstappen’s win in Abu Dhabi was the 35th of his career, with the Dutch driver's engineer describing his twilight drive at the Yas Marina circuit as "sublime" on team radio.

The 25-year-old Verstappen dominated from start to finish, but he was unable to assist his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez in his bid to beat Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and take second place behind him in the drivers’ title championship.

Leclerc, driving with great precision and awareness, made his one-stop strategy succeed by resisting Perez, on fresher tyres after two stops, in the closing laps to confirm Ferrari finished second in the constructors’ contest as he did in the drivers’.

"It’s incredible to win again here," Verstappen said. "A 15th win of the season is unbelievable. It's been really enjoyable to work with the whole team and to be able to achieve something like this.

"I know it is going to be hard to replicate something like this, but it is also very good motivation to try and do well again next year."

Seen here, Red Bull world champion Max Verstappen celebrates after winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Red Bull world champion Max Verstappen celebrates after winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Pic: Getty

Carlos Sainz came home fourth in the second Ferrari ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell, Lando Norris of McLaren, Esteban Ocon of Alpine and Lance Stroll of Aston Martin.

Despite being pipped for ninth by Ricciardo, Aston Martin's retirement-bound four-time champion Vettel thanked his team and fans for their support across his incredible career.

"I wish it would have been a couple more points," said the retiring German driver.

"A big day, thank you for all the support and the smiling faces. I'm sure I'm going to miss more than I can imagine," added Vettel who heads into F1's sunset with four drivers' world titles, 53 race wins, 57 pole positions and a chorus of tributes ringing in his ears.

with agencies

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