F1 Phenomenon: Witness Daniel Ricciardo’s Epic Comeback Journey

Earlier this year, Daniel Ricciardo had a realization that he still wanted to be a Formula 1 driver. After being dropped by McLaren, he took two months off to spend time with family and friends in Australia, trying to rediscover his love for the sport. During that time, he only trained once.

“I was living life,” Ricciardo said in an interview. “I was having beers with friends, camping, fishing, doing these things.”

But after eight weeks of leisure, Ricciardo started to feel like he didn’t want to fall into a lazy routine. He didn’t want to become a “slob.” It was then that he knew he needed to continue his career as a Formula 1 driver.

Ricciardo had left McLaren two months earlier after two difficult years. Although hurt by the team’s decision to terminate his contract, he saw it as an opportunity to reset and rebuild himself.

“At the time, it was a harsh reality getting fired,” he said. “But I needed to step away and refind my love for the sport.”

Ricciardo admitted that the results weren’t there during his time at McLaren. Apart from a victory in the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, he struggled to perform at his best in the car.

“By the end of the season, I didn’t care about my reputation anymore,” he said. “Getting fired turned out to be a blessing in disguise.”

Just three days after the end of the last season, Ricciardo was announced as the third driver for Red Bull, where he had previously spent five successful years. This role would allow him to stay involved in Formula 1 and assist the team in testing and simulating the experience of driving a car.

It wasn’t until a visit to the Super Bowl in February that Ricciardo started to feel the urge to return. “I missed the feeling of competition,” he said. This led him to start training again and reaffirm his desire to get back into the sport.

When Ricciardo first stepped into the simulator for Red Bull, it became clear what had gone wrong for him at McLaren. “We had to rebuild him and get the old Daniel back,” said Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal.

One problem they identified was a significant change in Ricciardo’s braking technique, which was an attempt to compensate for the car’s weaknesses. Once they corrected this, his performance improved.

Ricciardo acknowledged that his confidence had taken a hit during his time at McLaren. “I realized that I wasn’t operating at the level I thought,” he said. But after a second run in the simulator, he started regaining his confidence.

Over time, Ricciardo proved himself once again. His performance at a tire test led to him replacing Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri. Although he never expected to return so quickly, he embraced the opportunity.

In his third race back, Ricciardo unfortunately suffered an injury during a crash, breaking multiple bones in his left hand. Despite this setback, he remains determined to recover and earn a contract for next year, with the ultimate goal of returning to Red Bull in 2025.

“The big picture is that I want to work my way back up to the top team,” he said. “I’m not talking to any other teams. Now it’s up to me to perform well and prove myself.”


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