Daniel Ricciardo has said that as long as nothing unexpected happens, he will be signing the contract to return to Red Bull.
Ricciardo was under contract with McLaren until the end of 2023, but the team decided to terminate his deal a year early after a difficult stint with the Woking outfit.
Ricciardo was not interested in the potential Haas vacancy, which went to Nico Hulkenberg, while Alpine chose Pierre Gasly to partner Esteban Ocon from 2023, which closed the door for Ricciardo in terms of being on the 2023 grid.
He is set to spend next season then as a reserve driver, with both Mercedes and Red Bull mentioned, though it was Red Bull’s driver programme boss Helmut Marko who let slip that Ricciardo was on his way back to the team.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner went on to confirm that there is a deal on the table for Ricciardo to sign if he wishes to.
And following the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Ricciardo confirmed that only something unforeseen will prevent this reunion from happening.
“It’s getting close, it’s getting close,” Ricciardo told PlanetF1 regarding the prospect of him signing that Red Bull contract.
“So look, I can honestly say unless something unforeseen happens, that’s what is going to happen next year.”
Ricciardo would also confirm that he will not be at all 24 planned races next season, as if he was prepared to commit to that, then he would likely have been a part of the 2023 grid.
“The role I’ll have will not be 24 races,” he told media including PlanetF1. “If I was there 24 races then I’ll probably be on the grid racing.
“So I wanted to make that clear that look, I want to still be involved, but I need personally for me, for my own headspace, I need some time away from let’s say the travel and everything.”
As for which races he will be at, Ricciardo, with a smile, said: “Vegas! I’ll invite myself to Vegas, even if a team doesn’t, I’ll be there.
“Like Australia, some parts which are no-brainers for sure. Also in the commercial side I have partners on that, so I’ll still be around a handful, but let’s say at the most a dozen.”
Ricciardo finished his final race for McLaren in the points, crossing the line P9 as he held off the retiring Sebastian Vettel throughout the closing stages.
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher