Daniel Ricciardo has said he wants to get back onto the F1 grid – but only if certain conditions are met.
The enigmatic Australian is enjoying life away from the F1 paddock and the freedom that brings but having been trackside for the first time this season in Melbourne, Ricciardo did admit he was starting to feel the desire to come back.
The route back onto the grid is as murky now as it was when Ricciardo left at the end of 2022 with the teams focusing on their 2023 season too much to think ahead to next year.
But, even if he feels a desire to come back, Ricciardo is not adopting a ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ attitude and said he will only return if certain “terms and conditions” are met.
“I still am at a point where it’s not at any cost, it’s not just to be back on the grid,” Ricciardo said, as per Sky Sports.
“A lot of the reason for taking this year off was that I didn’t want to just jump back into a car, any car just to be one of the F1 drivers. And I still don’t see myself starting from scratch and rebuilding a career and going at it for another decade.
“I appreciate I might not have every opportunity under the sun, but I want to win,” he added. “I want to be back with a top team and obviously a team where I have my confidence back and my mojo.
“I think also that’s where, maybe when I look back that’s a weakness of mine, but in a way it’s a strength as I feel better at the front of the grid. I feel like I perform in those situations with a bit more pressure and a bit more emphasis on a podium.
“So to go back and try to put myself in just any seat or something that’s fighting at best for a top-10 finish, I don’t think that’s going to bring the best out of me. So yeah, I see myself, at least in my head, wanting to go back on the grid, but there’s still some terms and conditions, so to speak.”
Has Daniel Ricciardo done enough to demand a top team seat?
Even if we are almost a full year away from the start of the 2024 season, Ricciardo’s relaxed nature about returning to the grid seems a little too optimistic.
Of the many drivers currently without a seat, Ricciardo is certainly the most successful of them with his eight grand prix wins but 87.5% of them came at least five years ago.
In all sport, memory can often be short and Ricciardo has to ask himself: ‘When team principals look at me, do they see the quick Red Bull driver or do they see the struggling McLaren man?’
Ricciardo has made it clear he wants to return to a team that has a chance of winning but where is that seat realistically going to come from? While many fans would want to see the Ricciardo-Max Verstappen combination back at Red Bull, the Milton Keynes outfit have the safe pair of hands of Sergio Perez at the wheel, not to mention the Mexican is the same age as Ricciardo.
Mercedes are only going to have a seat spare if Lewis Hamilton decides to retire and if that is the case, it seems more likely they would go all out to hire one of the sport’s best young talents rather than plump for Ricciardo. The situation at Ferrari and Aston Martin also looks very set.
Even his former team in Alpine are unlikely to swap the younger Esteban Ocon or Pierre Gasly for Ricciardo.
Perhaps then, Ricciardo will either get more desperate as the year goes on or maybe we have seen the last of the Australian in F1.