‘One of the best drivers’: F1 champions pay tribute to sacked Ricciardo

Sebastian Vettel says he hopes Daniel Ricciardo finds a place on the grid in 2023 after accusing McLaren of failing to get the best out of him during his 18 months with the team.

Ricciardo was sacked by McLaren this week after reaching an agreement with the Australian to pay out his contract for next year.

McLaren is expected to announce Oscar Piastri as his replacement in coming weeks, but Ricciardo is yet to secure a new contract elsewhere in the sport.

Sebastian Vettel had the opportunity to see Ricciardo work up close during their time together at Red Bull Racing.

Vettel was the team’s senior driver during his halcyon title-winning days of 2009–13 as Ricciardo was rising through,

 the team’s junior ranks, culminating in his promotion to Red Bull Racing in 2014.

It was seminal year for Ricciardo, who beat the reigning champion in his own team 238-167,

 and finished third in the drivers championship behind only the rampant Mercedes teammates.

Speaking ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix, Vettel said he had deep sympathy for Ricciardo, who he said remained among the sport’s best drivers.

“Maybe I have too much empathy for a Formula 1 driver, but I’m very saddened hearing what’s going to happen to Daniel,” he said.

“I think it’s a very, very difficult situation to be in. “I think he’s still one of the best drivers.

“I raced against him — I had the pleasure to race against him and the not so pleasurable side of getting beaten by him years ago.”

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