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Formula 1

‘Choosing to laugh as I don’t want to cry’ – Ricciardo’s US GP

by Edd Straw
3 min read

Daniel Ricciardo’s statement that “I’m smiling because we’re nearly done” after another poor performance in the United States Grand Prix was in reference to his post-race media commitments almost being over. But it could easily have summed up wider feelings on the 2022 Formula 1 season.

Ricciardo finished 16th at Austin after struggling for pace. He ran 13th early on but soon lost places to Yuki Tsunoda and Zhou Guanyu before an early stop meant he was only ahead of Williams driver Nicholas Latifi at the restart. And that’s where he finished after repassing Latifi in the closing stages, having slipped behind when he made his second pitstop.

The Australian has three more races to go with McLaren before a year on the sidelines in 2023, meaning he’s close to bringing down the curtain on the most difficult two seasons of his career.

“In a way, yes,” he said when asked by The Race whether his comment about being “nearly done” reflected his relief that the end of his McLaren struggles are just three races away.

“That was meaning the media, this is my last one [media session] of the day then I can get out – no disrespect. I’ve just talked about how not great about the day was, so now I can talk about it one more time today and then let it go. [It was] more a reference to today.

“[On the] year as a whole, last year was a struggle but now I look back at last year and think ‘oh, last year was actually pretty good compared to this one’.

“So I’m choosing to laugh because I don’t really want to cry. I still am going to do what I can in the last three [races]. I’m at a point where I’m not going to hope or think or expect it’s going to be an amazing last three races. Days like today leave you feeling a bit helpless.”

Ricciardo went into the race aiming to make gains given he’d underachieved in qualifying.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship United States Grand Prix Race Day Austin, Usa

Any optimism Ricciardo had for the race was extinguished in the early stages when he was shuffled backwards. He only just held off Haas driver Mick Schumacher before his first pitstop and recognised that the pace wasn’t there to make progress.

While team-mate Lando Norris finished sixth, Ricciardo was never a points threat.

“It’s one of those ones where it’s happened all too often this year, early in the race, by lap eight, lap 10, I know how the rest of the day is going to go.

“You can just feel and also see what the other cars around can do. And simply what I’m not able to. If I knew [how to] the year would be going better, it’s not three-four tenths. Even three-four tenths is massive.

“I remember when I was with Max [Verstappen at Red Bull from 2016-2018], three-four tenths and I’d be throwing things around in my room. I’m seconds off nearly, it feels so far off, it’s bizarre.”

Ricciardo confirmed earlier in the weekend that he’s still in talks with F1 teams for a potential reserve driver role as he seeks a racing return in 2024.

But while he’s disappointed that his McLaren stint is coming to a premature end, he’s looking forward to the reset offered by next year’s break from racing.

“I think it’s going to be best for me to reset, especially [after] a year like this,” said Ricciardo.

“I’m still showing up and being here, but it days like this hurt. Just to remove myself to some degree will be good for me mentally too.”

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