daniel ricciardo endured “long and frustrating” f1 belgian grand prix after mclaren exit bombshell

Daniel Ricciardo was “smiling” and “happy” despite a “frustrating” F1 Belgian Grand Prix after answering questions about his McLaren departure for several days prior.

The veteran driver will exit McLaren at the end of this season, a year earlier than his contract was due to expire, and is now in a fight to find a seat for the 2023 F1 driver line-up.

Rumours link him with Alpine and Haas although he has admitted that a sabbatical from F1 is possible.

He finished 15th at Spa then said: “It certainly hasn’t been the most fun weekend going through all this, but at the same time it was nice to get back in the car and just try to put everything behind me and have a bit of fun.

“When all the red lights were going on I was smiling and I was just happy to be in that moment again.

“There were certainly some parts of it I enjoyed. I’m glad that the bulk of this announcement is done, and hopefully it gets a bit more fun for the last eight.”

daniel ricciardo endured “long and frustrating” f1 belgian grand prix after mclaren exit bombshell

He added: “Pretty long and frustrating race. It just felt like we were waiting for a mistake. I said on the radio, ‘Obviously I’m trying, but unless they make a mistake in front, it’s literally impossible to pass’.

“The good thing about this year is you can race closer, but the bad thing is the tow effect is smaller, so actually on a track like this I felt like it made overtaking more tricky.

“If we’d had a little bit of distance on him (Alex Albon), the race probably could’ve been very different, but I think when his tyres were fresh, that Williams actually had good speed to use. He struggled more with deg, but early in the race he had pace. As I said, that first and third sector, if I didn’t have a tow from someone in front, I was a bit of a sitting duck.

“When Albon got me [I knew it was going to be a long afternoon]. He got me because I couldn’t pull enough of a gap in the second sector, and then when I saw he was still quite close I was like, ‘Damn’.”

Ricciardo said about McLaren’s potential ahead: “It’s for sure tricky. It’s tough. As we’ve seen, a big weekend can obviously make a big shift for sure, but we feel like we’re probably a few steps away from a big weekend. It’s going to be tough. I think we just need obviously small steps at a time. I feel like the last few weekends they’ve consistently been a quicker package. Tough task for now. For sure not impossible. But I don’t want to say, ‘Yeah, we’re going to do it’, because I think right now they are a bit quicker.”

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