Daniel Ricciardo unknowingly drops massive hint over F1 future

After losing his seat to Oscar Piastri at McLaren, the Australian is without a contract for the 2023 season

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With just 20 seats available on the Formula 1 grid, Daniel Ricciardo doesn’t have many options when it comes to the 2023 season.

Even so, the fact the Australian may be set for a sabbatical is still surprising. It was only a few weeks ago that Ricciardo said he planned on remaining with McLaren.

A lot has changed since then. The Woking outfit have opted to pull out all the stops and snatch Oscar Piastri from Alpine, even though the 21-year-old has no F1 experience.

Sebastian Vettel has said goodbye to the sport, with Aston Martin bringing Fernando Alonso in as his replacement. Initially, Ricciardo was seen as a possible replacement for the Spaniard at Alpine, but it looks as though Pierre Gasly is destined to take that seat.

Which leaves Ricciardo in an unexpected situation. A video has emerged showing him speaking with Sergio Perez on the grid in Zandvoort in which it seems he all but confirms he’ll be on the sidelines for a year before returning in 2024.

Although most of the conversation is inaudible, Ricciardo can be heard stating: “Take a year off and come back in 2024.”

To say the current campaign has been a disappointment for the 33-year-old would be putting it lightly. Regularly beaten by Lando Norris, the eight-time GP winner must be hoping that this weekend’s trip to Monza, where he won last season, can convince teams he has what it takes to remain on the grid.

Haas have yet to confirm Mick Schumacher, with all signs pointing towards them moving on from the German, while Williams are expected to say goodbye to Nicholas Latifi.

It’s unknown if Ricciardo wants either of those seats, if he’d rather be a reserve driver, or if he’d rather recharge his batteries and come back in 2024.

Mercedes option

One rumour making the rounds is Ricciardo could land at Mercedes as their third driver.

When asked about his plans for next season, the Australian said he is open to anything, even becoming a reserve for one of top teams on the grid.

“I’m pretty open minded with any scenario,” Ricciardo said at the Dutch GP.

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, in cockpit | McLaren F1 Team

“I think there’s pros and cons with all of it. There’s pros with having some time off as well, currently the 18 months I’ve had has been more challenging than not so maybe some time away would be good.

“But then also staying active is good. That’s why I kind of want to hear everything. Even if it’s a reserve, I don’t want to be too proud to say I’m too good for that.

“I just want to hear everything and see what makes sense. It could be something that sets me up better for the future and next year may be one of those years where I need a bit of patience.”

Reports suggest Ricciardo has already spoken to Toto Wolff on the matter, with the Mercedes boss said to be open to the idea, though whether it comes to anything remains to be seen.

Adriano Boin
Motorsport journalist specialising in Formula 1 and Ferrari.
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