Daniel Ricciardo admits that reaching Q3 in his final qualifying with McLaren at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was "a bit of a relief". The Australian is coming to the end of his two-year tenure at the Woking-based squad following the mutual decision to terminate his multi-year contact early, meaning that he has been left without a race seat for 2023. With the F1 weekend at the Yas Marina Circuit set to be his last for the time being, Ricciardo was happy to qualify in P10, though he will drop three places due to a penalty for a collision with Kevin Magnussen last time out in Brazil.
Ricciardo happy for himself and Vettel
Given his struggles during 2022, Ricciardo was satisfied with his stronger performance in qualifying at Abu Dhabi. "I won't miss my lack of competitiveness this year," he told Viaplay . "Qualifying certainly hasn't been my strong suit obviously with this car, but to stay out there [for] the whole hour, to be in Q3, I think that was just a bit of a relief." Ricciardo is not the only driver competing in their last F1 weekend for the time being; Mick Schumacher and Nicholas Latifi have also been left without a race seat for 2023, while Sebastian Vettel is set to retire from the sport after the race. Vettel reached Q3 in his final qualifying, and Ricciardo was pleased for them both in getting to the top 10 shootout. "I saw Seb as well in there, and I felt like we both had a little smile on our face when we got into Q3, so that was a positive thing," he added.
Ricciardo acknowledges gap to Norris
While he reached Q3, Ricciardo acknowledges that he was still some way off teammate Lando Norris, who qualified in P7. However, he remains happy with his efforts in the session. "Obviously I still lacked about three tenths [of a second] or something to Lando, so there's still a little bit [of a gap]," Ricciardo said. "But, with the year it's been, it's no surprise. I'm happy to put up a bit of a fight till the end."