What we’ve come to learn from the Formula One in recent years – especially with the rise of shows like ‘Drive to Survive‘ that grant viewers unprecedented access to the F1 teams throughout the season – is to expect the unexpected. This sport is absolutely ruthless, and no matter how good of a driver you might be, your seat is never guaranteed for the following season.
Case in point: Daniel Ricciardo, bonafide Aussie legend and one of the sport’s greatest drivers, who today announced that his team McLaren essentially have given him the boot to make way for young-gun driver Oscar Piastri, who will be joining McLaren in 2023.
Despite walking away from his McLaren contract a year early, the Aussie is set to bank a AU$24 million salary, which includes performance bonuses… not the best nor the worst result for Ricciardo, given the circumstances.
The 33-year old took to Instagram to announce the news himself, putting on a brave face for what is essentially a blow to the gut for the driver who, as it stands, won’t be driving in the Formula One come 2023.
“2022 will be my last year with McLaren,” Ricciardo said, mentioning the announcement was “bittersweet.”
“Obviously we put in a lot of effort on both sides but it just hasn’t worked the way we wanted so the team has decided to make a change for next year. We had a lot of discussions but in the end we mutually agreed it was the right thing for both of us. For the future, what lies ahead, (I’m) not sure yet but we’ll see.”
Ricciardo mentions the decision to leave McLaren was mutual, but his poor racing performance with the F1 team over the past 18 months would suggest otherwise. And in an era where teams are constantly fighting for points, pouring millions into their cars and teams and drivers, the latter need to deliver the results to justify the overall expenditure.
“I learnt a lot about myself, things that will help me for the next step in my career but in life in general,” said Ricciardo.
“The sport – I still love it. This hasn’t affected any of that. I still have that fire in me, that belief in my belly that I can do this at the highest level. All that stuff is still there … this isn’t it for me.”
Ricciardo has struggled to find form since joining McLaren from Renault in 2021, and some pundits have suggested his best years in F1 are well behind him. Whilst he secured a win for McLaren at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza in 2021 – and the team’s sole race win since 2012 – Ricciardo has frequently been outperformed by his British teammate, Lando Norris.
A reminder that Daniel Ricciardo is the only driver to win in a McLaren in the last decade 🏆 pic.twitter.com/eLzcb4UR26
— ESPN F1 (@ESPNF1) August 24, 2022
Whilst the news of Ricciardo’s departure from McLaren at the end of the 2022 season will come to a shock to many, it simply is the name of the game; you must drive to survive.
As it stands, the future of Daniel Ricciardo’s Formula One career does look uncertain. There has been some speculation from pundits suggesting that he could move away from F1 and join the world of IndyCar racing, but a seat could become available at either Alpine, AlphaTauri, Alfa Romeo or Haas.