“It was 50-50” - Ricciardo thought F1 career could be over after McLaren stint

Daniel Ricciardo has revealed he thought there was a 50 per cent chance that his F1 career was over after leaving McLaren at the end of 2022.
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) AlphaTauri. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 23, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) AlphaTauri. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 23,…

After two disappointing years with McLaren, Ricciardo was replaced by Oscar Piastri for F1 2023.

This left Ricciardo on the sidelines, ultimately returning to Red Bull as their third driver.

He would then make a sensational return with AlphaTauri - Red Bull’s sister team at the Hungarian Grand Prix - as a mid-season replacement for Nyck de Vries.

Reflecting on the end of 2022 in Abu Dhabi, Ricciardo admitted that he did seriously think that was potentially his final outing in F1.

“Sitting here a year ago, I was like ‘could this be my last race?’” Ricciardo said. “I don’t exaggerate when I say that. I really didn’t know. I honestly thought it was 50/50.

“So to have the year I’ve had and forget the hand. I just kind of feel a little bit reborn again. I feel re-energised and I’ve definitely got a second wind.”

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) AlphaTauri AT04. Formula 1 Testing, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Tuesday.- www.xpbimages.com,
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) AlphaTauri AT04. Formula 1 Testing, Yas Marina…

Ricciardo raced in seven events in 2023 after an injury to his hand, sustained at the Dutch Grand Prix, ruled him out of five.

“If I didn’t race at all this year, if I had a whole 12 months off, I think that would have been no problem,” he added. “Because just the power of time off for me was just really, really beneficial and it gave me so much.

“Fortunately, I did find enough in those six months. If you’d have asked me in January ‘okay, you’re going to jump in at AlphaTauri at Budapest? How do you feel?’ I would have said ‘well, I’m probably not ready, I need more time.’

“But then by that point, it just made a lot more sense. Driving the cars, it feels fun again, and even qualifying 14th or something, it was still just having fun.

“I really wanted to think just having a bit of perspective with the time off. It’s not like my enjoyment in the sport should not be results based but it doesn’t just need to be winning every time.”

He will remain alongside Yuki Tsunoda in 2024.

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