Nico Rosberg believes there was no choice for Daniel Ricciardo other than to leave F1 next season, despite options further down the grid.
The Australian's premature departure from McLaren was confirmed in August, bringing an end to a disappointing partnership with a year remaining on his contract.
Ricciardo has returned to Red Bull as the team's third driver as he looks ahead to a potential F1 comeback in 2024, despite being linked to Alpine, Haas and Williams in the time after McLaren's announcement.
Haas seemed the most likely option but 2016 champion Rosberg told Sky Sports' 'Any Driven Monday': "I don't think Daniel had much else of a choice.
"Yes, he had Haas potentially but that is really not what he is striving for.
READ MORE...Brown makes Ricciardo confession despite wielding axe
"He wants to be out there, competitive, really fighting for points and maybe podiums and things.
"It is a difficult one with Daniel. Just two years ago, he was the next world champion, huge hype, and now he is exiting the sport like that. It is so tough.
"Difficult to understand why he was struggling to get that performance out of the car and the performance we are used to seeing from him because he beat Sebastian Vettel in the same car over a season fair and square back at Red Bull.
"He is an awesome driver so strange that over the last two years with two completely different cars, he wasn't able to deliver.
"I don't understand it. I wish him to have a good reset now and who knows, maybe he will have another chance to get back in."