Daniel Ricciardo feels that Red Bull Formula 1 management 'owed him nothing' in recent discussions about returning in a third driver role after his 2018 exit.
The Australian departed the team for a 2019 Renault drive after feeling uncomfortable at the Milton Keynes squad and wanting to challenge himself elsewhere.
However, he bailed on the Renault project after two seasons for McLaren in 2021 but, following a disappointing stint, lost his seat at the end of '22.
After rejecting a possible race seat at Haas, Ricciardo opted to return to Red Bull as a third driver, shadowing Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez in 2023.
In those discussions with Red Bull bosses Christian Horner and Helmut Marko, Ricciardo has revealed how thankful he was to them for just talking with him.
Ricciardo on Red Bull discussions
"I told [Horner and Marko] - I was very honest and appreciative - I just said: 'Guys, thank you for just having this conversation with me. No matter where this conversation goes, I'll just thank you for your time because you don't owe me anything'," Ricciardo explained on the F1 Beyond The Grid podcast.
"If you take it for what it was, when I left Red Bull in 2018, it was big news and it was like: 'I can't believe Ricciardo is doing this'.
"But as much as that was a bit of a shock move and tough for me to deliver, the relationship [with Red Bull] remained very good considering the circumstances.
"You go through experience, you mature, and you grow, and it wasn't even discussed in terms of carryover like 'remember what happened, you owe us this.
"It wasn't even talked about, and it was just 'this is where we are today - and we would like to bring you back into the family'."
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Ricciardo doesn't look at Verstappen stats
Ricciardo's reasons for leaving Red Bull including doubts about Honda's ability to provide a race-winning engine and many suggested that he felt the team was edging in favour of Verstappen.
Since his departure, Verstappen has 30 wins and two World Championships with Honda power - while Ricciardo has three podiums, including one win.
Despite this, Ricciardo says he does not look back at what might have been.
"I don't look at it like that," he explained when presented with Verstappen's tally of success from 2019 onwards.
"Because nothing is sure in terms of had I stayed there for the past four years, could I say I'd have more podiums than I've had?
"Yeah probably, but you just don't know at the time, and I felt like [moving teams] was right for me.
"I felt like I needed a change and needed to remove myself a bit.
"Of course, I can be honest with myself and say: 'I took a bit of a gamble on myself'. I still feel like the Renault move was pretty good, especially in 2020.
"It was one of the best seasons I've driven in F1 - getting the team back onto the podium. I was very proud of that.
"With McLaren, the win [at Monza in 2021] was a high and I can't ignore that, and I can say: 'I tried but it didn't quite work out'.
"You live and learn, but I don't look back with regret. There was a challenge I took on and it didn't work out how I hoped."