Daniel Ricciardo has conceded he feared remaining with McLaren for a further year could have taken away his love for F1.
The Australian mutually agreed to terminate his McLaren deal a year early after two seasons of largely underwhelming results.
As a result, Ricciardo will not feature on the grid next year but has made a return to Red Bull following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as the team's third driver.
“It’s certainly a way to still stay involved and to give me the time necessary to take a back step,” Ricciardo told Speedcafe.
"That’s been no secret to myself.
“As the second half of the season went on, I just needed to step away for a bit, rebuild myself, reset a bit, and also just find the intense love for it.
“Because, at this level, if you don’t have that, then I’m not doing justice for myself or anyone around me.
“I’m not saying I’ve lost it, but I’m in fear of losing it."
Ricciardo - '24 races not right for me'
Ricciardo has repeatedly made clear his desire to earn a competitive race seat for the 2024 season that will enable him to fight for wins.
But after four difficult years at Renault and McLaren since leaving Red Bull, the 33-year-old: “It just became more and more clear that I couldn’t be doing 24 races next year – it just wasn’t going to be the right thing for me.
“I think it would have just probably worn me out more than anything and it’s at a point where I just felt a little exhausted, where I just needed to slow my year down.”