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Daniel Ricciardo

Ricciardo exclusive: 'I knew then that I wasn't ready to retire'

By his own admission, it has been a roller coaster year for Daniel Ricciardo. Did he ever have doubts about making his return to the grid? He explains everything in an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.

Ricciardo Abu Dhabi
Interview
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Out of all the drivers on the 2022 Formula 1 grid, would Daniel Ricciardo be on your bingo list for the one out of a drive?

It's a testament to his persona that a percentage of viewers switched from causal to occasional viewing when Ricciardo was absent, so you can imagine their delight when the rumours started to swirl that Red Bull was thinking about replacing the underperforming Nyck De Vries with the Australian.

When he made his return at the Hungarian Grand Prix it felt like he never left, but for the Australian it was the time spent on the sidelines that enabled him to reflect on whether he truly wanted to continue in F1.

"It's been the strangest of season's for sure, but I think in a year where I didn't think I would race a lot has happened," he told RacingNews365, in an exclusive interview.

"Even though I've raced, I still haven't raced much. It was just important for me this year to get my answer, to really find out if they truly wanted to keep doing this and just also to get that confidence in myself again."

Ricciardo returned at the Hungarian Grand Prix, but it would be short-lived before he could make any impact when a freak accident during practice for the Dutch GP put him out for another five races.

From there he was back on the sidelines, as rookie ace Liam Lawson scored points in what should have been Ricciardo's comeback story. Even with the injury, does he feel like there were signs telling him he should stop?

"I could see how some people would probably say 'Okay, you've tried to come back, you've now had a crazy little freak injury, maybe you should just quit' - I never saw it like that," says Ricciardo.

"I thought 'Okay, this is a shame, but it's fine' I'm going keep on this path and I'm determined to fight at the front again. So it's been a roller coaster, but I feel really good about it."

A moment to pause and reflect

It can be an odd time for a driver to spend time on the sidelines, as there is no guarantee that they will make their way back onto the grid.

Mika Hakkinen is a prime example of a driver who went on a 'sabbatical' to never return, while Red Bull themselves have been privy to a conveyor belt of drivers in recent years.

For Ricciardo it was a key moment of reflection: "It started in February when I wanted to just train again, I took two months off over Christmas and I had no winter testing or no schedules.

"So I just took a big holiday and also mentally just switched off from racing. I'd spent two months not really doing much. Then I felt like doing some training and got into a really good rhythm."

I was still happy taking some time to keep the fire burning

- Daniel Ricciardo

Fear of missing out

Ricciardo's first race back on the sidelines was in front of his home crowd in Melbourne. The million dollar smile never left his face, but underneath you could not help but feel he was experiencing FOMO - the fear of missing out.

The Australian feels that it would have been premature if he did it any earlier than Hungary, but it did confirm one thing on his mind.

"We got into Melbourne for the race, which was my first time at the track this year, and I was sitting in pit lane and I saw the cars," explains Ricciardo.

"I was like 'Oh yeah, I don't really feel done yet' So it was really there were I knew that I wanted to race, but I didn't need to race them.

"I was still happy taking some time to keep the fire burning and then seeing what happens, but it was quite early that I knew I wasn't ready to retire."

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