Daniel Ricciardo thinks the ‘one step back to take two steps forward’ approach may be the best way to prolong his F1 career.
The Australian appears increasingly unlikely to be racing in 2023 after being ousted from McLaren in favour of his younger compatriot Oscar Piastri.
More than a month after the news was announced, the 33-year-old still appears no closer to finding another team with the noise around a return to Alpine – he left Renault at the end of 2020 to join McLaren – having died down.
Haas probably represent Ricciardo’s best chance of staying on the grid next year, but whether it would be the right fit and they could pay him an acceptable salary is another matter.
Therefore, the eight-time grand prix winner appears to be reconciling himself to thinking a year on the sidelines might be best, with a view to finding the right opportunity for 2024.
Ricciardo was asked about his future on the Fitzy and Wippa breakfast radio show on the Nova 96.9 station in Sydney.
“When I say I don’t know, I don’t have a contract yet for next year,” said Ricciardo.
“Could it still happen? It could. I guess I’m not getting too caught up in next year. Of course I want to race, I want to be on the grid, I want to be competing.
“But I’m not kind of seeing next year as all or nothing. Obviously 2024 is something I want to be aware of and look at.
“So that’s kind of where I’m like. If it means taking a step back to then take two steps forward, that’s what we are trying to figure out at the moment, me and my team. So that could be a year off.”
Is a year away from racing the right move for Daniel Ricciardo?
What the former Red Bull man will be banking on is that F1 sometimes throws up the most unexpected of circumstances that can transform a driver’s career.
Who would have thought, for example, that a few months after being turfed out of Racing Point, with his F1 career feasibly looking done, Sergio Perez would be offered the chance to join Red Bull?
Admittedly a surprise win in the Sakhir Grand Prix helped the Mexican, but it was still quite a turnaround.
And even in February of this year, when he had just finished 12th in the Daytona 24 Hours, Kevin Magnussen could never have expected he would be racing a full F1 season for Haas.
Therefore, if there is nothing suitable on the table for Ricciardo in 2023, biding his time and waiting for something to emerge for 2024 could be the best bet.
The problem, however, is there are no guarantees – because he is not the only driver who will be seeking an opportunity, and despite his reputation for being one of the best racers he has lost some of his lustre at McLaren.
If he is to take a break at the end of this year, a strong end to the campaign, being right on the pace of team-mate Lando Norris and matching his results over the final six races, would do Ricciardo’s stock a power of good.