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Daniel Ricciardo doesn’t regret taking sabbatical in 2023

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Daniel Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo. Photo by Joe Portlock/Getty Images
  • Daniel Ricciardo believes that taking a break from racing for the 2023 F1 season was the finest decision
  • McLaren terminated his contract in 2022
  • He needs time to rest now and come back in 2024

Daniel Ricciardo believes that taking a break from racing for the 2023 F1 season was the finest decision he could have made.

McLaren hired the Australian in 2021 to be their lead driver. However, Ricciardo’s contract was terminated, and he was denied a ticket for the 2023 Formula One season because his colleague Lando Norris outperformed him for two consecutive seasons.

Ricciardo accepted the reserve driver position with Red Bull and a year away from the sport despite speculations that he was linked to a spot at Haas for the 2023 Formula One season.

The Australian F1 driver recently discussed his thoughts on this in an interview at Beyond the Grid podcast. He says there were signs that he wouldn’t make it back to the team for the 2023 season.

“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.”

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo. Photo by Sky Sports

From this experience, he made a decision, and he is glad he stuck by it.

“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 acknowledged that burnout might be a factor that influenced his sabbatical, but he believed that he knew what needed to be done to put things right.

For such a demanding sport, he realized there was so much more to his mental health besides practice. He is not alone because many other F1 drivers feel the same.

Taking time off makes it easy for him to deal with issues better, and he now has the opportunity to do this.

In 2024, he intends to return to the sport. He will be watching the interaction between Sergio Perez and Red Bull with interest over the course of the year.

Ricciardo had a $15 million annual salary at McLaren. Despite Daniel Ricciardo’s problems in Formula 1, McLaren team manager Zak Brown says he would “love to go racing” with him again in the future.

Daniel Ricciardo keeps options open ahead of key season - Sports Leo

Daniel Ricciardo keeps options open ahead of key season. PHOTO: Sport Onet

However, Brown concedes that he is excited about the team’s 2023 lineup and the “exceptional” Oscar Piastri.

The eight-time race winner, who was outperformed by his youthful teammate Norris, had his three-year deal with McLaren confirmed in August. Ricciardo is now back at Red Bull as a third driver after failing to find a suitable F1 seat elsewhere.

Although McLaren CEO Brown called Ricciardo’s McLaren failure a “huge enigma,” he did not rule out the Australian driver making a comeback in the future.

It’s frustrating for all of us. I very much hope to see him on the grid again in Formula 1, which is his desire, and the door remains open for him to be in a McLaren in the future. If the stars align, I’d love to go racing with him again,” Brown said.

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, but an outgoing sports writer with focus on tennis, athletics, football, motorsports and NBA.

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