Losing his F1 seat was painful for Daniel Ricciardo, made worse by being replaced by a fellow Australian - but the 33-year-old has been praised by the incoming Oscar Piastri for his response.
Ricciardo and F1 team McLaren agreed to terminate their contract one year early in order for the team to sign Piastri, the former F2 and F3 champion, for 2023 onwards.
Despite claiming McLaren's first win since 2012, Ricciardo's ongoing struggles getting to grips with the car ultimately lead the team to look elsewhere.
Piastri was their man after the 21-year-old was eventually cleared to join the team after a messy exit from his role as reserve driver with F1 rivals Alpine, who had supported his junior career and hoped to replace the outgoing Fernando Alonso with the Melbourne-born star.
Alpine believed they had a valid contract with Piastri for 2023, but it was eventually determined by the FIA's contract recognition born that he was indeed a free agent, and therefore free to sign with McLaren.
While finally getting the chance to realise his F1 dreams was an unforgettable moment for Piastri, in the short-term it was also a somewhat bittersweet feeling since it came at the cost of fellow Aussie Ricciardo's seat.
In an interview with the In the Fast Lane podcast, Piastri revealed Ricciardo had put his mind at ease about the situation by calling him soon after the dust had settled on his agreement to leave McLaren.
“I was planning on getting in touch myself, but with the timing of things, he was obviously at a race, and quite frankly I didn’t actually know if he wanted to hear from me," Piastri said.
“I was trying to think of what to say, but he beat me to it.
“A true professional, Daniel is. My respect for him was already extremely high, and it’s only gotten higher in the way he’s responded.”
Piastri was just 10 years old when Ricciardo debuted in F1 back in 2011, and like many aspiring drivers looked up to the eight-time F1 race winner as he progressed through the junior ranks.
He said having the backing and confidence of Ricciardo behind him had put his mind at ease as he prepares to debut in F1 next year.
“Him getting in touch like that, it was great for me personally,” he said.
“Knowing that there were no hard feelings, that really helps me quite a lot.
“That was good, to get in touch. That was a nice moment.
“It is a bit of a sliding doors moment, but I think if I can get close to emulating what success he’s had on track and also the character he is off the track, then I think I’ll be doing a reasonable job.”
Oscar Piastri details stress of F1 contract saga after replacing Daniel Ricciardo
Piastri was fiercely criticised by Alpine after publicly rejecting them after they declared on Twitter that he would be replacing Alonso next season.
He and his manager, fellow Aussie F1 legend Mark Webber, were not convinced Alpine's contract with Piastri was valid for next season, prompting the hearing with the FIA.
Having feared his opportunity in F1 could vanish, Piastri said the determination of the contract board had come as a 'relief'.
“I think the first [emotion] was obviously relief,” he said.
“It was obviously a pretty stressful time the hearing. The first was relief, and then obviously happiness.
“It’s something up in working towards since I started racing way back when — I think it was about 12 years ago or 11 years ago now — so to finally know what my future holds firstly and, secondly, that it would be an F1, that was relief and a very, very happy moment.
“There were a lot of feelings going on.
“When I first started I wanted to be a professional in any kind of motorsport and just race cars for a living, but to be able to do that in F1, I think it’s pretty hard to find a better day job than that.
“I’m super excited and very much looking forward to the future, because I want to make sure this is my job for a while now.”
Piastri has long been a highly rated driver even before he made it to F3 and F2, with Red Bull boss Christian Horner expressing his regret that the team had overlooked him as a junior.
The 2020 Formula Three and 2021 Formula Two champion raced for the Arden team, founded by Horner and his father, in Formula Four and Formula Renault.
"There was an opportunity for Red Bull to look at him at the time and we didn't take up that option, which is something that I regret," Horner told Formula One's Beyond the Grid podcast.
"The only problem he (Piastri) now has to deal with is the expectation on him will be immense," Horner said.
"He's going to have to get in and deliver against Lando Norris, which is no mean feat.
"But you either sink or swim in this business. He's a very, very capable driver, I'm sure he's going to do very well."
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