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.”
“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.”