Daniel Ricciardo concedes: Not everyone has the hero story

Michelle Foster
Daniel Ricciardo smiles with a fan. Australia April 2023.

Red Bull reserve Daniel Ricciardo smiles with a fan arriving at the track. Melbourne April 2023.

Accepting there are “a lot of sad stories” in Formula 1, Daniel Ricciardo says that was an important perspective for him to maintain during his McLaren struggles.

Ricciardo walked away from the Formula 1 grid at the end of last season after the driver and McLaren called time on their partnership two years into his three-year deal – McLaren choosing to pay him off.

It was a decision the two reached together, with Ricciardo unable to regain the form that seemingly deserted him when he left Red Bull at the end of the 2018 season as the Aussie sought new challenges – first with Renault, and then McLaren.

Daniel Ricciardo will be back on the grid at the Hungarian GP

But when the latter failed, Ricciardo was left to lick his wounds with the Honey Badger opting for a year on the sidelines as Red Bull’s reserve driver while he tried to put his McLaren struggles into perspective.

Today, looking back at it and with a return to the grid just days away, he accepts it was all about learning.

“I guess when you’re trying to go for the top in something, like not everyone makes it, so there’s a lot of sad stories so to speak. Not everyone has the hero story,” he told the official F1 website.

“So I think it was just important for me to remain perspective, and also learn from it all. If I truly still wanted it and had that desire then I can learn from let’s say my mistakes or weaknesses.

“So I was trying to, as much as I didn’t want to be in that position, I was still trying to find the good in it, so that it could move me forward and be a more complete version of myself. And that’s it.

“I’m certainly starting to feel this year and being back in Red Bull and all that, it feels like, okay, all this stuff happens ultimately for a reason if you use it the right way.”

The right way eventually pointed the Aussie back toward one of his first teams in Formula 1, AlphaTauri.

This weekend Ricciardo will line up on the grid as Yuki Tsunoda’s new team-mate with the eight-time grand prix winner called up to replace the ousted Nyck de Vries.

Ricciardo’s return comes after the “luxury of time”, as he put it, saw his desire to compete in Formula 1 reignited with the driver falling “back in love” with the sport.

“I would say the luxury of time was something that I really admired,” he said when asked about his time off. “Having that because I’ve been in this sport for over a decade and then before that, I was climbing my way up so I kind of had been full on for [years].

“I think it’s the 17th year I’ve been in Europe now, like away from home, so it’s a long time that you’re just in it, and you don’t have the luxury of time to look back, take a moment, assess everything.

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“Because even Christmas, everything you do there’s still thought of the upcoming season, so I think just having real off time and switching off mentally as well allowed me to I guess slowly fall back in love with it.

“And just I really wanted to bring that motivation back, like I wanted it to come from me, because I was still trying to find answers like is this truly still what I want to do? Or has that kind of fire slowly burned away?

“But yeah, gave myself the time, figured it all out. And then you wake up one day, it’s like that feeling alright it’s go time. And that was kind of the mentality after a couple of months off that it’s time to build this thing back up.”

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