After receiving a grid penalty for his incident with Kevin Magnussen in Brazil, the Australian moved from 13th on the grid to ninth at the flag, successfully holding off Sebastian Vettel.
Ricciardo, who has long planned to sit out 2023 and look for a race seat for next year, was announced on Wednesday as the third driver for Red Bull Racing.
The Australian said he tried to stay focused and not get emotional during his last race with McLaren.
“I’m happy, I’m also relieved that the season ended like this and not like the race in Brazil,” he said of his latest McLaren outing.
“I think seeing the black and white checkered flag to finish in the points gives me more peace with how this year has ended.
“And of course I don’t know what the future holds. So if this were to be my last race ever, at least I can say I had a nice battle with Vettel at the end and I feel a little more satisfied with my performance. So for that, I’m relieved.”
He added: “I’ve tried not to get too emotional, honestly. Because it’s not certain. Maybe yes, maybe not. I didn’t want to be overridden by emotions, nostalgia and all these things.
“I was just trying to stay focused, and definitely take it all in and appreciate it. But at the end of the day just stay focused and try to concentrate on obviously the 58 lap race.”
Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren
Photo by: Steven Tee/Motorsport Images
Despite his solid drive, Ricciardo admitted he didn’t feel he had reached the car’s potential.
“I think in terms of pace it was still difficult to really get everything out of it,” he said when asked by TSTIME if he had the same feeling as during his attack in Mexico.
“But I felt like with what I had I felt like I was attacking well and defending well.
“And I was pretty sure Vettel was going to catch me with the pace he was closing at, so to hold him off made me proud, and Lewis’ misfortune meant Seb got the last ever point of his career. So That made me a little happier for him too.”
Ricciardo said knowing he won’t be on the grid next year will provide some motivation.
“That’s really a feeling that I hope somehow makes me a little agitated, makes me hungry and makes me a little tense.
So I will really know when my place is back on the grid. If I look like a fan and I don’t really care then I also have my answer that okay then my future looks different. So I hope to get these feelings of course, I’m sure I will.
“But it also gives me some time off and some time to, shall we say, rebuild myself and just have a year with not so many highs and lows, just a little more balanced.
“Also, just for me personally, I think it’s going to make me a little bit more consistent and a little bit happier.”