Daniel Ricciardo has managed to “flush out a difficult two years” and is setting his sights on a comeback next season.
The Aussie’s Formula 1 career was sent into a dramatic decline when he made the move from Renault to McLaren.
Hopes were high for team and driver as McLaren acquired the services of a seven-time race winner, and while Ricciardo did make that eight when he won the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, it was overall a very underwhelming two-year stint for Ricciardo at McLaren.
And that was enough to convince McLaren not to go into the third year of Ricciardo’s contract, cancelling it a year early and bringing Oscar Piastri in a new team-mate for Lando Norris.
Ricciardo is still present at times in the Formula 1 paddock, having returned to Red Bull as a third driver, and the Aussie was in attendance at the Monaco Grand Prix to watch the action unfold as a spectator this time, rather than being out there competing.
He is intent on changing that for 2024 though. Ricciardo chose to sit this season out in a bid to rediscover his love for Formula 1, and he is now feeling refreshed to push for a return next season.
“I do want to get back next year,” he told Total-Motorsport.com.
“I do want to compete. I feel more refreshed, and obviously, I’ve flushed out a difficult two years. So I’m in a good place.”
But where does Daniel Ricciardo fit into F1 2024?
It is great to hear that Ricciardo has shaken off the torment of that awful McLaren stint, and should he return to the grid next season, the comeback of one of F1’s biggest personalities would be very welcome indeed.
The issue though is which team could he possibly slot into, since he has also made it clear that he will not come back just to make up the numbers, he wants to have the chance to win.
Right now Red Bull are the only team achieving that, though with Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko having said recently that Ricciardo is not at the level of Max Verstappen or Sergio Perez, that appears to firmly shut the door.
Aston Martin, Ferrari, Mercedes and Alpine are the only other teams making progress that could give them any sort of hope of winning races soon, but all four boast driver line-ups which are pretty stable for next season, so there is no room for Ricciardo there.
Unless Ricciardo is willing to compromise and consider a drive in the chasing pack behind, it is hard to see him being on the 2024 grid.