F1 2023: Daniel Ricciardo ‘glad’ top team didn’t offer him seat on grid, Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, burnt out

Daniel Ricciardo has confessed he’s “glad” a top Formula One team didn’t offer him a seat on the grid for 2023.

McLaren decided to part ways with Ricciardo despite there being another year left on his contract, picking up countryman Oscar Piastri in an ugly exit from the team.

Ricciardo’s F1 career is at risk of fizzling out after separate two-year stints at Renault and McLaren produced underwhelming results after his surprise move to leave Red Bull at the end of 2018.

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Ricciardo has now returned to his former team Red Bull in a reserve drive role he will share with Kiwi youngster Liam Lawson.

The move away from a full-time drive is widely seen as a step backwards for Ricciardo and there’s every chance he could struggle to get back on the grid in the future.

There’s a possibility the 33-year-old could still be driving in F1 this year had he accepted repeated offers from Haas team principal Guenther Steiner.

Ricciardo didn’t entertain the idea of driving for Haas or other teams lower on the grid like Williams and Alfa Romeo — intent on taking a year off.

But there’s no guarantee there will be an opening him for at a top team in 2024, with Red Bull (Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez), Ferrari (Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz) and Mercedes (George Russell, Lewis Hamilton) entrenched with their driving pairings for the foreseeable future.

Speaking on the Beyond the Grid podcast, Ricciardo said he was relieved Red Bull, Mercedes or Ferrari didn’t offer him a full-time drive he would have felt obliged to accept when his heart wasn’t in it for 2023.

“There was a couple of times where (Ferrari) was linked. Guenther (Steiner, Haas team principal) reached out,” Ricciardo said.

“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 races 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 has been open about feeling burnt out after his struggles at McLaren and he hopes a year away from the weekly grind of F1 will benefit his mental health revitalise his love for the sport.

“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.”

The 2023 F1 season gets underway at the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 5.

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