Daniel Ricciardo admits that he was partly "glad" not to have been offered a race seat with a top F1 team for the 2023 season following a difficult two years in the sport.
The Australian was left without a place on the grid after he and McLaren mutually decided to terminate his multi-year contract early, meaning that he would leave the squad at the end of the 2022 campaign.
After weeks of speculation about his future, it was confirmed after the season finale in Abu Dhabi that Ricciardo would return to Red Bull as a reserve driver for 2023.
While there did not seem to be many options available near the front of the grid, there looked to be availability at Haas and Williams for a race seat.
Ricciardo insists though that, even if an opportunity had arisen with a leading team, he knew that he ultimately did not want to compete next year.
Why Ricciardo craved 'distance' from racing
"As Guenther [Steiner, team boss at Haas] said, he reached out and stuff," Ricciardo told the Beyond The Grid podcast.
"[But] since the summer break, the more days that passed – especially [after] the triple-header to get back into the second half of the season, so three races on the bounce – it became more and more clear that it wasn't about what phone call I was receiving, it was about me acknowledging that I just ultimately don't want to be competing next year.
"So, in a way, I am glad that a top team didn't reach out, because it's one of those ones where you probably feel like, 'Oh, I've got to sign it!'
"But I think, deep down, I was just craving a bit of distance."
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Ricciardo reflects on 'burnout'
When asked if he had experienced a sense of "burnout", Ricciardo acknowledged that this was the case, with the eight-time race winner suggesting that his approach differs to many other athletes.
"You could call it some burnout," Ricciardo explained.
"And I'm not afraid to admit that or say that. It's one of those ones that everyone will have an opinion [on] and this and that.
"But it's ultimately like, I know what I feel, I know what I want, so it was some of that.
"I feel very – I don't want to say I'm the only driver that feels this way – but I wouldn't say I'm the normal sportsman, where I kind of use 'practice makes perfect'.
"The more I do, sometimes the more I'm just getting kind of lost in it, where I kind of feel like the power of a break for me, some time off, I could come back better.
"Which sounds kind of counterintuitive to some, but I know, for me, that could actually be really good."
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