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Switching from full-time racing to being a reserve driver has been eye-opening for Daniel Ricciardo.
It’s been over ten years since Ricciardo has had any time off from racing, and the switch he made at the end of 2022 was a welcome one.
“This is the first year in as long as I can remember that my goals aren’t going to be 100% about racing and competing,” Ricciardo said in a LinkedIn post. “Whilst there’s still an element of that, it’s in a different capacity this year and I now have space for a separate set of goals to focus on too.”
The Australian driver didn’t just switch from a full-time seat to a reserve role, he also went from McLaren back to Red Bull, a team he spent five seasons racing for.
“From a professional point of view, this year is really about being a team player at Red Bull,” he said. “I’m back in an environment and ultimately a family that I have a lot of good memories with, and it feels really good to be back there. But it’s not about me this year, it’s about the wider team and trying to contribute and help them where I can.
“Jumping into the simulator, learning their car and helping shape the development are all things I’m focused on doing. In turn that will develop my abilities, my confidence, and my enjoyment behind the wheel.”
“I’m still here”
After a tough two seasons at McLaren, where Ricciardo took a race win for the team but ultimately fell short of their goals for him, he’s eager to remind people that he isn’t gone for good – yet.
“It’s been a tough couple of years professionally, so there’s an element of that competitor in me wanting to remind people that I’m still here, still a professional and still contributing to success.”
All the same, he’s enjoying all his newfound free time and is focusing on his own personal goals for the time being.
“From a personal perspective, this year for me is really feeling like a bit of a luxury to have the opportunity to do things that I’ve always wanted to and not had the time.
“People might think I’m joking here but I really want to get better and better on my 110[cc motocross bike]. I’ve always enjoyed motorbikes, but never really been able to ride much because the luxury of time hasn’t been there.
“But I love learning new skills and I think that drive for excellence that I’m used to will carry over into this hobby too. I promise you this is the most fun you can have on two wheels. Riding with friends, jumping things and being out in nature. I’m getting excited just thinking about it.”
Will we see Ricciardo back in a Formula 1 seat in the next year or two, or is he done will full-time racing for good?
Feature Image Credit: @redbullracing on Twitter