Daniel Ricciardo has declared he wants to continue in Formula 1 for a “few more years” as he feels like the Honey Badger from “ten years ago”.
Months after deciding he wanted to sit out this year’s championship following his McLaren exit, Ricciardo returned to the Formula 1 grid with AlphaTauri when he replaced Nyck de Vries at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
It was, Helmut Marko reckons, an inspired move that has had a “very positive effect, in terms of mood and motivation in the AlphaTauri team” with the Red Bull motorsport advisor going on to say Ricciardo could stay on at the junior team for the 2024 season before vying for Sergio Perez’s Red Bull seat.
Daniel Ricciardo has ‘young energy again’
But while Ricciardo didn’t touch on the possibility of returning to Red Bull, the team with whom he won seven of his eight grand prix victories, he says he is hoping to stay on the grid for a “few more” years.
“I’m definitely taking it race-by-race but in terms of where I’m at, I’m not just saying ‘oh yeah, I’m just going to finish racing this season and then see what happens’,” Ricciardo told media, including PlanetF1.com, at the Dutch Grand Prix.
“I want to be racing for a few more years now. I think six months ago that was not my answer.
“I didn’t know what my answer was and that was something I was really trying to find out during this time off but coming back in, I’ve described it to some people like it feels like me ten years ago.
“I feel like I do have that young energy again and that motivation and ultimately that happiness and that love to be back on the grid and to be racing.
“So yeah, the plan in my head is a few more years – but as far as… performance-wise, I take it race by race.”
At 34 years of age, the Australian driver is a long way off from Formula 1’s oldest driver, Fernando Alonso, who is 42.
Like Ricciardo, the Spaniard spent some time way from the grid and recently said one of his big regrets in his first stint in the sport is that he “should have enjoyed [it] more”.
That was put to Ricciardo and whether that was now a goal of his, the Aussie saying: “I want to. I mean, that’s really what I’ve been trying to get back to.
“Get back to the start. Get back to the early days and the real roots and the core of why I got into this and the things that motivated me and why I wanted to be here in this position so yeah, just kind of strip everything back and get back to the pure enjoyment of the sport and the love of it.
“It obviously probably got a bit clouded over the last year or two and I certainly found myself not in a place where I was enjoying it as much as I wanted. So, that’s really that.
“As I said, six months ago I wasn’t sure if… I remember we sat down in December and I wasn’t sure if I would get back in the sport, or race again.
“I even just take this now as every weekend is a bonus. I’m here; I’m racing; I’m loving it. I’m going to enjoy it. There’s not really too much pressure or anything. I feel I have a point to prove but I’m not carrying too much weight with that.”