Daniel Ricciardo pleased to return to his ‘happy place’ behind the wheel

Henry Valantine
Daniel Ricciardo smiles in the press conference. Spa August 2022.

McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo smiles while being asked questions. Spa August 2022.

After finishing his summer break, Daniel Ricciardo said he was happy to get back to his “happy place” behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car.

Ricciardo has been a big focus of attention at Spa this weekend after the announcement that he will be leaving McLaren a year before his contract was due to expire, with the team opting to pick a new team-mate for Lando Norris next season.

The eight-time grand prix winner has spoken about his clear disappointment at the outcome of his time at McLaren, having struggled to match Norris in equal machinery since the start of 2021.

He finished in the top 10 in both free practice sessions at Spa on Friday, in cool conditions that produced some wet/dry running from the drivers – but he thinks the weather will improve as the weekend progresses.

“We were expecting more rain today, like a wetter Friday, and then it looks drier or dry for the rest of the weekend,” Ricciardo said in the paddock after free practice.

“So I think it was probably a bit more representative having some dry running today, but I think the temperature kind of gets better and I think the track will improve a lot.

“Even FP2, there was still some damp spots in the middle sector and a few corners which are still a little tricky, so I think the rest of the weekend will be better.

“I mean, I’m worried saying that at Spa because this place you never know what the weather does, but I think it will be drier, more track temp and probably just get the tyres working in a better place.”

The summer break was one that was likely to have been an interrupted one for Ricciardo given the uncertainty surrounding his McLaren future, with team CEO Zak Brown admitting the team had to write “a big cheque” to make their eventual decision.

But now he is back in the groove of driving again, he was pleased to be able to get back on track again.

“It’s always a weird one coming here because nobody’s ever excited to finish a holiday,” Ricciardo said with a smile. “So you’re like sad saying bye to a holiday, but then once you get back in the atmosphere and in the car you realise it’s also a very happy place.”