Daniel Ricciardo remains committed to Formula 1, if only because it means he can avoid the ovals of IndyCar.
The McLaren man is facing an uncertain future as he has just three races left on his deal before being replaced by his compatriot Oscar Piastri.
With no seat currently lined up for 2023, it is looking increasingly likely that Ricciardo will take a year-long sabbatical from F1 in the hopes of rejoining the grid in 2024.
He is not without options though and as someone who loves all things American, a move to IndyCar has been touted for the 33-year-old.
Former F1 driver turned IndyCar racer Romain Grosjean showed his support for the idea of Ricciardo joining but the Australian has responded with a simple “F**k that.”
“Ovals scare me,” he said, as reported by Autosport.com.
“My Formula 1 career-slash-ambition is not over, so that’s really like first and foremost. I don’t want to deviate, I would say primarily for that reason. But also ovals, nah.
“Ten years ago, I would have said yes. I’m OK to admit that I’m not OK with ovals.”
“They look fun,” he said of a street and circuit only programme. “But I think because I’m just not out of F1, I haven’t really entertained it.
“The romanticising part of it, like America and all that, would be fun. But yeah. It’s more of a fantasy.”
There are strong rumours that Ricciardo may be a face in the F1 paddock next year but in a reserve role with Mercedes, who lost Nyck de Vries to AlphaTauri, looking the most likely. Ricciardo has maintained though that no contract has been signed as of yet.
“I don’t, I don’t,” he confirmed. “For now, everything is just rumours.
“Am I talking? Yes. But there’s no pen on paper or anything like that yet.”
“I still have ambitions for 2024. So I won’t completely disconnect from the sport, but obviously nothing’s guaranteed for ’24,” he added.
“Like, I don’t have a seat that I can say I’m definitely going to be driving but I’ll still be around and trying to put work in to be back.”
A year out may prove to be a wise move for Daniel Ricciardo
Ricciardo has rightfully earned the title of ‘happiest driver on the grid’ but 2022 has been anything but. Indeed, ever since he joined McLaren he has been subjected to a soul-sapping run of form that has left him questioning what on earth has happened.
Confidence can play a huge role in not only the life of a Formula 1 driver but any superstar athlete. When you have endless articles or tweets questioning your ability race after race, even a man as happy-go-lucky as Ricciardo may start taking it to heart.
So perhaps a year away from all that will do Ricciardo the world of good. A year out of the spotlight and a year to rest and recharge after 11 consecutive seasons under the Formula 1 microscope.
Sport also has a funny way of making your reputation improve even when you are not doing anything. Think of when a football manager gets sacked. They will spend a few months out of the game and as soon as the next job comes up, they are remembered for all the good things they did and not what made it all go wrong.
That is exactly what could happen to Ricciardo. A year out of the spotlight may have more people delving into the long-term rather than short-term memory portion of their brain and remembering Ricciardo for the driver he once was and not just the last race.