At the start of September, Piastri was officially confirmed as Ricciardo’s replacement after McLaren won their battle with Alpine for his services, with the FIA’s Contract Recognition Board ruling that McLaren have a valid contract with Piastri for 2023 and 2024.
The verdict came after a long-running dispute over Piastri’s F1 future, with the Australian rejecting Alpine’s announcement that he would drive for them in F1 2023.
With Piastri replacing Ricciardo, this has left the veteran Australian without a drive.
After the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Red Bull announced Ricciardo’s return to the team as their third driver.
In an interview with the Australian Grand Prix’s In the Fast Lane podcast, Ricciardo explained why he decided to talk to Piastri shortly after he was officially confirmed at McLaren.
“I definitely felt for him. And look, don’t get me wrong, of course my career was kind of in a way going tits-up, so I was certainly very occupied with myself and trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do, but at the same time I was aware of some of the comments and stuff that were going towards him,” Ricciardo said.
“I felt for him I think for a few reasons. One is that it should be the biggest moment of your life, getting into Formula 1. It’s a dream come true, and if it can’t really be enjoyed or celebrated, it’s a bit of a shame. And as well it was just kind of how the chips fell. He was in the situation, but it’s not like he created the situation. It was just a product of all these things happening and then, okay, he’s the guy, and that’s it.”
Ricciardo wanted to clear the air with Piastri – and his manager, former F1 driver and fellow Aussie, Mark Webber.
“And of course Mark has a job to do as well, trying to find his driver a seat,” he added. “I get how people were like, ‘Oh, you know, doing that to another Aussie!’, and blah, blah, blah, but I certainly didn’t view it like that or take it as it kind of seemed maybe from the outside.
“We were all just trying to do the best we could. No-one really knows him yet as well as a driver, as a character — as an individual. It’s a little harsh that he’s getting some stick when people are just making their own assumptions. So I felt for him. This should be one of the proudest moments of his career, not something that he’s scared to talk about.”