Grand prix

The condition Daniel Ricciardo set out for Red Bull return | F1

The F1 2023 calendar has thrown up a record-setting 24 races (set to be reduced to 23 if the Chinese Grand Prix is cancelled) but Ricciardo will not be a full-time driver after his axing from McLaren.

Although he won’t be a regular fixture in the F1 2023 driver line-up, he has agreed terms over a third driver role with Red Bull, the team he previously represented.

“I won’t be at 24 races,” he told Sky. “Otherwise I may as well still be on the grid. I made it clear that I needed time off.”

Ricciardo said to Jenson Button: “I remember Barcelona last year, so very early in my McLaren career. I out-qualified Lando Norris and [Button] said to me: ‘It’s about time you showed some pace!’ 

“I remember you scratching your head about why I was struggling with the car. Sorry to leave a fan frustrated! 

“It has beaten me down, the past couple of years, which is why I want a little bit of time removed. I want to find a part of myself again and rebuild a little bit. When it doesn’t work you can so easily just be angry, bitter, have negative emotions to something you love.”

Ricciardo finished a dreadful season 11th in the F1 standings after a P9 in Abu Dhabi.

“I’m relieved with how the race ended,” he said. “I look back to a week ago – if that was the finale, it would have left a sour taste in my mouth. To see the chequered flag, to be in the points, to hold off Sebastian Vettel was fun. I crossed the line and put in a solid effort which leaves me fulfilled. 

“There were races where I felt more comfortable but this was the difficulty – all of a sudden, a week later, I’d be back where I was. The consistency and the unknown were what made it so tricky. I’m happy to have had a few nice ones since the summer break.”

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