Zak Brown reflects on “very difficult” period of backlash following Daniel Ricciardo split

Daniel Ricciardo was able to make Zak Brown tattoo his win in Monza, giving McLaren a much-deserved comeback after many years in Formula 1. The Honey Badger was a force of nature and he had angered people at Renault to commit to McLaren. However, good things don’t last long and the Aussie was released from the Papaya outfit after the 2023 season in favor of rookie Oscar Piastri.

Daniel Ricciardo had good relations with McLaren and while his 2022 season wasn’t as per expectations, he always held a soft spot in the team. Zak Brown, in particular, liked Ricciardo a lot and he has admitted to the repercussions of Daniel’s exit.

Zak Brown discusses Daniel Ricciardo split

Daniel Ricciardo left McLaren’s budget in shambles after an untimely exit from the team and you would expect chief Zak Brown to be frustrated over his losses. In spite of the fact that Daniel cost them a lot, Brown agreed that they in fact loved Daniel and it was very difficult for them in that critical situation to break his contract.

Daniel Ricciardo
Zak Brown tattooed Ricciardo’s win via Google

“Breaking up with Daniel was very difficult. You know, love Daniel. Great guy. It just didn’t work out but that wasn’t the master plan in the end, so that was a very difficult situation. So to get accused of certain behavior….everyone has an opinion, but they don’t have the facts, so that was very difficult.”

Zak Brown agrees that if they could, they would have tried their best to keep Daniel in the Papaya outfit far longer than we saw. There were even rumors that McLaren offered him a seat in IndyCar if he wanted, however, Daniel Ricciardo was adamant. For better or for the worst, they both have parted ways from each other, albeit not in the way they’d have liked.

Ricciardo reveals how McLaren exit helped him

The way McLaren was performing at the start of 2023 season, make everyone unanimously agree that Daniel Ricciardo left McLaren for his betterment. Even the Honer Badger felt comfortable in his new home, i.e. the Red Bull sister team AlphaTauri.

Signing up for Red Bull as a reserve driver had a huge impact on his salary but the Aussie got a chance on the 2023 grid again and he made a viking comeback in the Mexican GP post injuries. Even Horner praised Daniel’s form and at one point Daniel was in contention for a seat at Red Bull, alongside Perez. Daniel Ricciardo himself revealed that leaving McLaren was a ‘blessing’ for him and he doesn’t regret it at all.

Daniel Ricciardo
Ricciardo left McLaren in 2023 via Racingnews365

Daniel also revealed his strategy and how leaving McLaren had a positive effect on him, “I just needed to remove myself from and really kind of get my answer to things like, ‘Okay, do I really miss it? How much do I miss it? What are the reasons why am I still doing it? Do I believe I can still do it at my best level?’”

“So I did that for two months and just had a nice time with family and friends and then got to a point where I was getting a little bit antsy, where I was feeling like I wanted to be training again, I felt like just getting in shape and just kind of felt like I had more to give than just being in holiday mode.”

Daniel Ricciardo
A new animal at AlphaTauri via Sky Sports

“So it was probably February where I was I like, ‘I’m going to the gym today.’ And then that just started brewing and then we got to Melbourne and that was the first race I attended. Being there I started getting a little bit of, and I wasn’t ready yet, envy. So that was where I was like, I think I know the direction this is steering in, I’m just gonna let it keep, and I was like, ‘Man, if I get 12 months of this, I’m gonna be a frickin’ animal come 2024.’”

Now that the Honey Badger is back in game, do you think he will be able to replace the ‘friendly dog’ who has caused a stir in Red Bull lately? What are your reviews of Daniel Ricciardo’s 2023 season? Do share your answers in the comments below.


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