Daniel Ricciardo admitted that seeing Formula 1 go on without him next year and whether or not he is itching to get back out there will be a key factor in whether or not he chases a full-time drive in 2024.
The eight-time race winner is without a seat for 2023 after McLaren mutually ended his contract a year early, in favour of young compatriot and Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri to come in to partner Lando Norris next season.
Ricciardo had offers to stay on the grid next season, but without a drive available with a realistic chance of competing at the sharp end of the field, he opted to take a year on the sidelines to add a bit more “balance” to his life, and take away an “edge” that has been a constant since his arrival in Formula 1 in 2011.
He has taken on a third driver role with Red Bull to maintain a paddock presence in Formula 1, mostly combining marketing activity with simulator work back at the team’s Milton Keynes base.
But when the cars get going again in Bahrain in March, he will be watching on to see what happens next.
With that, if the sight of Formula 1 cars driving without him being behind the wheel of one of them is enough to make him “foam” to want to get among it again, he will know he will want to pursue a full-time seat again for 2024.
“It’s really the one word that got me into this, it’s competition, you know, and yes, I love the speed of F1 and all the other stuff that comes with it, but ultimately, why I race is because I love competing,” Ricciardo explained on the In The Fast Lane podcast.
“And even when I was a kid, before I was racing anything I was competing in other things and I would throw tantrums if I would lose.
“Everything was a competition to me, and that’s where there’s an element of me which is really excited to remove an element of competition in my life next year and just kind of be a little more balanced and not going through the highs, the lows and all of that.
“But I’ve loved competition my whole life, so I don’t think that will fade away, and I think I’ll do things next year which give me an adrenaline rush or I’ll find activities to kind of get my highs from.
“But I would be very, very surprised if I watch races, especially when I’m at the track, and I’m not wishing I was out there and not wishing I was competing and stuff like that.
“I think that’s also the beauty of next year and having that time off, it’ll give me that hard answer, you know, [of] what I truly want and also I could watch round one and I’ll be like, ‘I don’t want to sit out this whole year’, and then that will just build into something probably really positive for me over the course of ’23.
“And then if an opportunity arises in ’24, then I feel like I’ll just be foaming at the mouth.”