The news every Aussie F1 fan was dreading, but also knew it was coming has been confirmed this morning with Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren “mutually agreeing” that Daniel will leave the Formula One team at the end of the 2022 season.

The race-team announced “McLaren Racing and Daniel Ricciardo can confirm that Daniel’s 2023 contract has been terminated early as both parties have mutually agreed that he will leave the team at the end of the 2022 Formula 1 season.”

Of course, this flies in the face of what McLaren CEO Zak Brown told Fox Sports just weeks ago, but let’s be honest – a company boss is always going to say what works on the day, especially with multi-million dollar contracts at stake.

Daniel took to Social Media himself to make the announcement:

And it’s hard to watch. You can see in his eyes that this isn’t the end he wanted for his time at McLaren – Ricciardo says “wanted to share some news. Uh, it’s not great. Uh, it’s a bittersweet for sure, but, uh, I think it’s best you hear it from me. Uh, 2020 be my last year with McLaren. Um, yeah, just obviously we put in a lot of effort on both sides, but just hasn’t worked the way we wanted. Uh, so the team decided to make a change for next year. And so we had a lot of discussions, but, uh, in the end we mutually agreed that it was the right thing for both of us. Um, I will continue to do the rest of this year. Absolutely. Um, and I’ll continue to give it my all. Um, so, uh, that’s, that’s that I think for the, the future, what lies ahead? I’m not sure yet. Um, not sure yet, but, uh, but we’ll see, you know, I, I look back on this time with McLaren.”

In terms of next steps, Daniel is now a pawn in the game of Formula One seats.

Timing wise, it seems likely Daniel and McLaren would have hoped to release this news as part of a future announcement too, however with Alpine looking to challenge their contractual hold on Aussie Oscar Piastri it seems that wasn’t possible.

All Daniel could say was “We’ll see what lies ahead”

What next for Daniel Ricciardo?

There are a few seats open in Formula One now. Some desirable, some not so.

Daniel could walk away entirely, but if you look at what he says – he’s keen to continue, saying “I still have that, that fire in me that, that belief in, in my belly that I can do this at the highest level.”

If Alpine lose their fight for Oscar Piastri, and Oscar takes Daniel’s seat which is clearly the expectation of McLaren, then Daniel has a possible seat at Alpine.

While unlikely, Billionaire Lawrence Stroll might see value in a big-name lineup of Alonso and Ricciardo at Aston Martin – though he would need to sack his son Lance, which – seems the most unlikely of all.

And then there’s lower grade teams like Alfa Romeo and HAAS.

The F1 Teams would have wanted all these ducks in a row before this weekend’s race in Spa – however, they’re now going to have to put up with wall to wall minute to minute interviews about what next.

We will wait and see.

You can watch all the Formula One action on Kayo Sports this weekend, and follow it up with the EFTM F1 Podcast on Monday morning which is recorded straight after the race.