After two disappointing seasons Ricciardo will leave McLaren at the end of this year after both parties agreed to a mutual parting of ways to end his contract early.
The Australian had hoped he could secure another starting seat for 2023, but with no attractive options as only Haas and Williams have free slots, he recently admitted he would not be racing next year.
There has been talk that Ricciardo could be a Mercedes reserve driver next season, before attempting to return full-time for F1 from 2024.
For Sainz , who was replaced at both Renault and McLaren by Ricciardo himself, that difficult situation is the best example of how F1 drivers have to perform every time they get into a car, and cannot rest on their laurels.
“All the drivers know it, because it happens to all of us on a smaller scale every race,” Sainz told Motorsport.com. “You are always as good as your last race, unfortunately, in this sport. If that is extended to one season, then you are only as good as your last season, and that is why Daniel [Ricciardo] is in such a difficult situation.
“Nobody remembers your good morning, it only counts if you’re half a second behind in the last qualifying or the last season. And there’s nothing we can do about it. That’s how this sport rates us and treats us.”
“That’s why the maximum points are so high. When you win, you’re a hero, you have your best weekend and you’re the best driver in the world. Nobody is better than you. But then when you go through a bad time, it’s a sport. which is very hard.”
Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75
Sainz said he had a lot of empathy for Daniel Ricciardo, who had come to McLaren on a three-year deal because there seemed little doubt about his potential for the team.
However, since he found it difficult to get comfortable with the Woking cars, he has been overshadowed by his teammate Lando Norris.
Carlos Sainz added: “I’m sorry for Daniel because I know how good he is. I’ve always valued him a lot. He found himself in a car and in a team where maybe he wasn’t comfortable, and that’s enough for your career to start taking a different path.”
“Maybe he takes a year off, maybe not. But if he comes back in two years and wins a race, no one will remember the two seasons with McLaren.”
“That is the reason why in F1 you always have to focus on the next race, because in the next one you can change the impression of everyone,” concluded the Spaniard from Ferrari.