Daniel Ricciardo has insisted a year on the sidelines in 2023 is something he “needs” – rather than being enforced due to a lack of opportunities.
The Australian was left pondering what to do with his future, in the short team at least, after McLaren dispensed with his services for next season in favour of his rookie compatriot, Oscar Piastri.
Although a seat back at Alpine, his former team, may well have appealed to Ricciardo, he seems to have no hunger for pursuing one of the two remaining drives available, at Haas and Williams.
Instead, the 33-year-old would rather bide his time after a two-year stay at McLaren that has been largely tortuous, failing to be anywhere near as competitive as his team-mate Lando Norris – apart from a shock victory in the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.
As the realisation began to sink in that he would be struggling to secure a car capable of challenging at the front next year, Ricciardo said it had also dawned on him that a spell out of the spotlight would be beneficial having been racing in F1 non-stop since the summer of 2011.
“It’s something I’ve certainly evaluated since the summer break,” Ricciardo told Sky F1.
“I wanted to give it a few races and the more time that passes, the more I feel like it’s (a break) what I need.
“Albeit as well the opportunities aren’t…there’s not really anything in the form of next year.
“So that’s where part I would like the break and probably need it to reset a little bit, and then part maybe 2024 as well some other things may open up.”
What recent precedent is there for Daniel Ricciardo to follow?
In scouring the archives looking for a driver who was in the same boat as Ricciardo within the last decade or so, it is difficult to find one with a similar track record who came back to F1 after a year away.
By that, we mean a non-World Champion – so that rules out Fernando Alonso – who was a proven race winner, with the Aussie having tasted victory eight times.
The best example is perhaps Rubens Barrichello, who wanted to continue his career into 2012 after being dropped by Williams but could not find a seat – despite saying he had been “working his ba**s off to make it happen”.
Barrichello was substantially older than Ricciardo at the time, having turned 40, but was an 11-time winner. Try as he might, with Bruno Senna selected over him at Williams for financial reasons, he could not make it back for one last fling.
And that is the problem facing Ricciardo. He could be seen by team bosses as something of a busted flush after his underwhelming two years with McLaren – and just like his current employers, those other constructors may prefer to look to the future.