Now it’s official. The Australian Daniel Ricciardo loses his cockpit at the McLaren Formula 1 team at the end of the year. The contract, which is actually valid until 2023, will be terminated prematurely, said the traditional English racing team on Wednesday before the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps (Sunday, 3 p.m., in the WELT sports ticker). It happens in “mutual agreement” – and the 33-year-old is probably made a bit palatable with a severance payment.

The farewell was “definitely bittersweet,” said Sebastian Vettel’s former Red Bull teammate Ricciardo in a video. However, the team “decided to make a change for next year”. But he still finishes the season.

This would make room for top talent Oscar Piastri at McLaren. The 21-year-old was announced in a summer posse by Alpine as a regular driver for next year. However, the Australian immediately contradicted this representation. He is said to prefer to switch to McLaren. The second regular pilot Lando Norris (22) is contractually bound there until the end of 2025. McLaren wants to make its future driver pairing public “in due course”.

Eight-time Grand Prix winner Ricciardo is a 2023 contender at Alpine. At the end of the year, the French lost Fernando Alonso (41) as the successor to Sebastian Vettel (35) to Aston Martin. This means that the second cockpit next to Esteban Ocon (25) is still free. Ricciardo would also be a candidate for Haas, where Mick Schumacher is fighting for a new contract.

After two difficult years at Renault, Ricciardo switched to McLaren for the 2021 season, but fell short of expectations there. He is in twelfth place in the current drivers’ standings (19 points), team-mate Lando Norris is seventh (76 points). There has been repeated speculation about his premature replacement.

Ricciardo said of his departure that “it has been a privilege to be part of the McLaren Racing family for the past two seasons, but after several months of discussions with Zak and Andreas we have decided to terminate my contract with the team early and are moving towards it agree that we will part ways at the end of this season. I will announce my own future plans in due course but whatever the next chapter will bring I have no regrets and am proud of the commitment and work I gave McLaren last season, particularly the win at Monza “. Ricciardo has been in Formula 1 since 2011 and has been with McLaren since 2021

He said he enjoyed “working with everyone at McLaren, both on track and at Woking, and I will give my all on and off the track as we enjoy the rest of the season together. I’ve never been more motivated to compete and be a part of the sport I love so much and I’m excited for what’s next.”

Team Principal Andreas Seidl said: “I would like to thank Daniel for his commitment and contribution over the past two seasons. Despite the common challenges, he always appeared with fighting spirit and positivity and helped the whole team to keep moving forward. We will never forget the memorable race win at Monza, which was a huge boost for the whole team. We have an important battle ahead of us in the Constructors’ Championship for the remainder of the season and we look forward to fighting it with Daniel and Lando.”