New video shows Daniel Ricciardo appearing to be overcome with emotion during his final radio message as a McLaren driver.
The Australian was visibly emotional after the race as he heads into 2023 without a drive and without any certainty of ever returning to Formula 1.
He is leaving McLaren on a high after pulling off some overtakes to finish ninth in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Monday morning, while teammate Lando Norris finished sixth.
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Ricciardo celebrated with a burnout on the Yas Marina circuit as his race engineer told the 33-year-old it had been an “honour” to work together.
The emotion was running even higher when Ricciardo parked his MCL36M in parc ferme and prepared to exit the car for the final time.
His voice appeared to break up in delivering his final message.
“Alright guys, thank you,” he said.
“I think you know how much I appreciate your efforts over the last two years, so thank you.”
Ricciardo earlier embraced his parents before the race and hugged former world champion Sebastian Vettel and his former teammate Max Verstappen after an emotional post-race sign-off on team radio.
“I tried not to get too emotional,” Ricciardo said.
“It’s not a sure thing – maybe it is, maybe it isn’t (my last race) – and there’s still a race to happen.
“I didn’t want to be overridden with emotions and a lot of nostalgia and all these things.
“I was trying to stay focused and certainly trying to absorb everything and appreciate it, but ultimately still stay focused.”
Verstappen won a record-extending 15th race to end his second straight world championship win in style.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was second and Sergio Perez rounded out the podium, ensuring Leclerc finished second overall in the drivers’ championship.
It was also four-time world champion Vettel’s last race before he heads into retirement, while Mick Schumacher and Nicholas Latifi won’t be on the grid next year either.
Ricciardo and Vettel finished ended up tied for 11th in the drivers’ championship on 37 points.
Over the weekend, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner all but confirmed Ricciardo would rejoin his old team as the 2023 reserve driver.
Ricciardo said the move to Red Bull was “very close” to being locked in.
“Unless something crazy happens it should get done,” he said.
“That’s the likely place I’ll be.
“I can’t say 100 per cent until things are signed off and whatever but that’s certainly what’s closest now. I look forward to that.”
He also revealed he won’t attend every Grand Prix on the 24-race calendar next season, as he looks to take a break from F1’s rigorous schedule.
“If it is though, I’m not going to be at 24 races,” Ricciardo added.
“Otherwise I may as well be on the grid somewhere. I made it clear that I still need some time off for myself and to get away a little bit.
“I’ll be around to some extent and try to stay involved.”
Ricciardo was pleased to finish his last race for McLaren in the top 10 instead of a DNF.
“I’m relieved how it ended,” he said.
“I look back to a week ago and if that was the finale, it certainly would have left some more of a sour taste in my mouth.”
“To see the chequered flag, to be in the points, to hold off Vettel the last 10 or so laps, that was fun and I feel like I crossed the line having put in at least a solid effort.”
“That makes me feel a little more fulfilled.”