Daniel Ricciardo was caught on camera speaking with Sergio Perez ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix, the soon-to-be-former McLaren driver telling his fellow driver about his 2023 plans.
And it is not great reading for Ricciardo fans.
The Australian driver will be leaving McLaren at the end of this season, calling time on what has been a difficult period in his Formula 1 career.
Although he won a race in papaya last season, P1 at the Italian Grand Prix, his results in general have not been good with Ricciardo scoring only four times this season, prompting the driver and McLaren to decide enough is enough.
The timing of his exit from the team has meant his options for next season are slim pickings – Alpine, Haas and Williams.
Alpine, though, are expected to confirm Pierre Gasly in the coming weeks, the Enstone team paying Red Bull to release him a year early.
His AlphaTauri seat will go to IndyCar driver Colton Herta if the FIA show some leniency with regards to superlicence points.
Haas are said to be considering Ricciardo, along with Nico Hulkenberg, Antonio Giovinazzi and their current driver Mick Schumacher, with the latter rumoured to be off to Williams if he loses his Haas seat.
With his options dwindling, and none of them looking as if they could offer him the chance to regularly fight for podiums never mind wins, Ricciardo was heard telling Perez he will be taking next season off.
“I’ll take a year off, then come back in 2024,” he was caught on camera saying.
Ricciardo to Perez: "I'll take a year off, then I'll be back in 2024"👀pic.twitter.com/WdGQE1Roqs
— Tracing Insights – 📈 F1 Analytics – 🇮🇳 (@TracingInsights) September 5, 2022
The Honey Badger has been on the Formula 1 grid since 2011 when he made his F1 debut with HRT. He moved on to Toro Rosso, Red Bull, where he had his best days, Renault and finally McLaren.
With eight wins on the board and 32 podium finishes he has twice finished P3 in the Drivers’ Championship, doing so in 2014 and again in 2016.
Reuters report him as having told The Core he is open to taking on a reserve driver role for next season.
“That fire in my gut is still there. It hasn’t gone away,” he said.
“There are pros with having some time off…but then obviously staying active here is good.
“So that’s why I want to hear everything. Even if it’s 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.”
Ricciardo had yet another grand prix weekend to forget at Zandvoort, the driver unable to make up even a single position after qualifying 17th for the Dutch Grand Prix.