Daniel Ricciardo explains why he is glad no top team offered F1 2023 race seat

Jamie Woodhouse
Daniel Ricciardo with a quirky look. Belgium August 2022

McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo with a quirky look. Belgium August 2022

Daniel Ricciardo is actually glad that no opportunity to race with a top team in F1 2023 came about, as then he would have had to take it.

As Ricciardo endured a second poor campaign with McLaren in 2022, the team decided to terminate the Aussie’s contract a year before it was set to expire, Oscar Piastri brought in as his replacement.

We will though still see Ricciardo here and there in F1 2023, as he has signed a deal to serve as third driver for Red Bull as he returns to the Austrian outfit.

Red Bull had not offered Ricciardo a race seat, the same true for Formula 1’s other big hitters Mercedes and Ferrari, but he is happy about that.

After the McLaren struggles, Ricciardo was clear in his mind that he wanted to take a break from being on the grid in 2023, but if one of these top teams had have reached out, then he would have felt obliged to say yes when his head was not in it.

Speaking on the Beyond the Grid podcast, Ricciardo said: “There was a couple of times where [Ferrari] was linked. But, I think coming back to a seat next year [2023] as Guenther [Steiner, Haas team principal] said, he reached out.

“The more… days that passed and, especially as I did the triple-header to get back into the second half of the season – so three days on the bounce – it became more and more clear that it wasn’t about what phone call I was receiving; it was about me acknowledging that I just ultimately don’t want to be competing next year.

“So, in a way I am glad that, let’s say, a top team didn’t reach out, because it’s one of those ones where you probably feel, ‘Oh, I’ve got to sign it’, but I think deep down I was just craving a bit of distance.”

Ricciardo acknowledges that his route is not one that all athletes would approve of, though in this regard, he says he does not necessarily subscribe to the “practice makes perfect” mindset.

Instead, the Aussie now looks forward to this year out of Formula 1’s firing line, which he feels could be very beneficial.

“You could call it some burnout, but I’m not afraid to admit that or say that,” he said. “And it’s one of those ones where everyone will have an opinion and this and that, but it’s ultimately that I know what I feel, I know what I want. It was some of that.

“And I feel very… I don’t want to say that I’m the only driver that feels this way, but I would say that I’m not the normal sportsman where I kind of just use ‘practice makes perfect’.

“The more I do sometimes, the more I’m just like getting kind of lost in it, where I kind of feel like the power of a break for me, some time off, I could come back better. I know for me that could actually be really good.”

2023 break lets time heal McLaren wound for Daniel Ricciardo

The pressure can be intense for a Formula 1 driver when very little is going right, and that was very much the case for Ricciardo at McLaren.

But equally the sport moves on and evolves at a rapid pace, so a year away from the grid can go a long way in allowing all of those associated with Formula 1 to refresh and refocus on what Ricciardo did at his best, a seven-time race winner before McLaren, which became eight with that Monza 2021 win.

With Ricciardo not in the right mental state, and that failed McLaren spell still so raw, racing in 2023 with any team could have been disastrous for Ricciardo’s Formula 1 career, so this break will allow him and the grid to reset ahead of potential openings in 2024.

Read next: Zak Brown on the ‘great mystery’ between McLaren and Daniel Ricciardo