Daniel Ricciardo sought help from psychologist after ‘most challenging year’

Mark Scott
Daniel Ricciardo on Japanese Grand Prix grid. October 2022

McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo on Japanese Grand Prix grid. October 2022

Daniel Ricciardo has revealed he started to speak to a psychologist in an effort to combat his continued struggles with McLaren.

The eight-time Grand Prix winner’s stock was at an all-time high when winning the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix back in his Red Bull days.

In the resulting seasons since, Ricciardo has struggled to find somewhere new to find home as spells with Renault and McLaren have both lasted just two campaigns respectively. The first move instigated by him, the second by his McLaren team who have cut Ricciardo’s time short by one year.

The initial expectation when Ricciardo first joined McLaren was that he would dominate team-mate Lando Norris and make it his team, but that expectation has never truly looked like happening as we have only seen short flashes of Ricciardo at his brilliant best.

Ricciardo’s reasoning for that is every time he felt like he took one step forward with the car he was driving, two backward steps soon followed.

His Formula 1 troubles grew to such an extent that it started to invade his personal life and it was at this moment that Ricciardo knew he needed some professional help.

“My confidence was being eaten away driving a car that wouldn’t dance with me and would bite back,” Ricciardo explained in an interview with the Daily Mail.

“Whenever we thought we would found a solution, along would come another set of challenges. When you put so much into something and it doesn’t work out there is sadness. It gets to you.

“Last year it affected me a little bit too much. I wouldn’t be my usual bubbly self.

“I would be reluctant if someone said let’s go out for dinner. I would need some cajoling. I let it get to me.

“I started to speak to a psychologist last year — the most challenging year I have had.

“Racing is very much results driven and dictates your Sunday happiness. I was neglecting friendships and thought it would be good to talk to someone to make sure the two sides of my life didn’t cross over.

“It’s like all things, you need perspective. And with the calendar being so long, it was hard to remove yourself from what was happening in the racing.”

Ricciardo, despite talks that no driver wants to have during the early stages of a Formula 1 season, said it was still somewhat of a surprise to him that McLaren wanted to end his deal with over a year still left.

“It is fair to say it was unexpected, given I was on a three-year deal that had a year to run,” Ricciardo added.

“It is not something you can prepare for. But I’d already had some honest discussions with Andreas [Seidl] and Zak [Brown] earlier in the year to see what we could do to improve things.

“It was a concern on both sides. I didn’t want to keep coming 14th or 15th.

“I kept the faith that something would click. But it hadn’t happened by mid-season and they took the decision they did. It put me in a tough position of thinking, ‘What next?'”

In terms of what is next for Ricciardo, a reserve driver role with either Mercedes or former team Red Bull looks to be the next step as he assesses options for a return to the grid in 2024.

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