Daniel Ricciardo has cost the Aston Martin team $18 million by holding off his former teammate Sebastian Vettel in the closing stages of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Ricciardo finished ninth in his final race for McLaren, less than a second ahead of Vettel.
Had Vettel been able pass Ricciardo, Aston Martin would have stolen sixth place from Alfa Romeo in the constructors’ championship, and the extra prizemoney that goes with it.
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It ends Ricciardo’s two-year stint at McLaren, described by 1980 world champion Alan Jones as “disastrous”.
The Australian was sacked with a year to run on his contract, replaced by compatriot Oscar Piastri.
Ricciardo has been linked with a return to Red Bull, the team where he won seven of his eight Formula 1 races. However, it will be in a reserve driver role, not a race seat.
“Otherwise, I may as well be on the grid somewhere,” Ricciardo said.
“I made it clear that I need some time off for myself to get away a little bit. But I’ll be around and try to stay involved.”
Ricciardo admitted the season had taken its toll, particularly his lack of consistency.
“There were certainly some races where I felt more comfortable,” he said.
“The difficulty, the struggle was that encouraged me and then all of a sudden, a week later, we were back where we were. The inconsistency, the unknown, was what made it so tricky but I am happy to have had a few nice [races] since the summer break.”
As Ricciardo made his way back to the pits after the race, his steering wheel displayed an image of the Australian and teammate Lando Norris celebrating their 1-2 finish at Monza last year.
“It’s been an honour Daniel,” race engineer Tom Stallard said on the radio.
“Really good two years, I know we haven’t always had the results we wanted, but we’ve had some pretty good ones along the way.
“I think I speak for everyone in the team when I say how much we’ve all enjoyed working with it.”
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