Daniel Ricciardo has explained the need to "step away" from Formula 1 as the reason why he took up the third driver role at former team Red Bull. Despite taking McLaren's first victory since 2012 in his debut season with the team last year, Ricciardo has since suffered from lacklustre performances on track. The Australian says that he wanted to spend the time to "rebuild" himself, having felt that he wasn't operating at the level needed to compete in F1. "It’s certainly a way to still stay involved and to give me the time necessary to take a back step," he told Speedcafe . "As the second half of the season went on, I just needed to step away for a bit, rebuild myself, reset a bit, and also just find the intense love for it. "Because, at this level, if you don’t have that, then I'm not doing justice for myself or anyone around me. "I'm not saying I've lost it, but I'm in fear of losing it."
Ricciardo wanted to avoid performing at '99 per cent'
McLaren will replace Ricciardo with fellow compatriot Oscar Piastri for 2023, in a move that Zak Brown previously described as "purely performance-based." Ricciardo believes the lifestyle in F1 can be overwhelming, feeling that he would not be performing at his best if he did another year operating at "99 per cent." "It's a privilege but it is also demanding. Yes, we are really good at what we do, but we're also still human and we still get tired, exhausted, fatigued,' he explained. "And at this level of sport, that is dangerous – you can’t be operating at 99 per cent, even. "So I really felt I was in fear of not being at my best if I did another year." Even though the third driver role will largely be taking on marketing tasks, Christian Horner confirmed Ricciardo will still be on hand should Red Bull need to replace either Max Verstappen or Sergio Perez due to injury or illness.
Ricciardo: You learn a lot in a winning environment
The reason for going back to Red Bull was because Ricciardo felt that he would learn a lot from being in 'a winning environment'. He added: "Obviously there was talks with other teams and I was like, 'Okay, if I'm not on the grid at least let me be aligned with a top team.' "It's nice to be in a winning environment, I think you learn a lot. "If there's not a seat with them, potentially they can help find a seat elsewhere. "Also, being linked with a top team, a bit like [Nyck] de Vries was with Mercedes, you're living with a top team – I feel like you're more, I don’t want to use the word relevance, but you're kind of more recognised and less forgotten."