Daniel Ricciardo: “There is still unfinished business” in F1

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 05: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Oracle Red Bull Racing looks on from the pitwall during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at Miami International Autodrome on May 05, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202305050851 // Usage for editorial use only //

With the first few rounds of 2023 completed, speculation continues about Daniel Ricciardo and his prospects for a return to the F1 grid.

The Australian driver’s accomplishments are clear, having secured an impressive total of eight race victories and 32 podiums throughout his career.

Unfortunately for Ricciardo, his decision to join McLaren for the 2021 season – following a brief stint at Renault – proved detrimental to his place in F1.

After spending two years struggling to perform at his usual level with McLaren’s machinery, resulting in a performance deficit to Lando Norris, the 33-year-old parted ways with the Woking team.

Victory in Monza aside, Ricciardo’s reputation has taken a significant hit in the last two years, resulting in limited options on the grid heading into 2023.

Instead of negotiating with a lower midfield outfit like Haas, Ricciardo opted to spend this year on the sidelines and wait for an opportunity at a front-running team.

Speaking as Red Bull’s third driver, the Australian has explained his general outlook for 2024:

“I’m really enjoying this year, and I think I’ll continue to enjoy it,” he told Sky F1.

“But by next year, I think I’ll certainly be eager to get back on the grid and compete.

“I feel like there is still some unfinished business.

“I’m continuing to do simulator. I’m going to jump in the car in July to get back behind the wheel [in a test with Red Bull].”

In a similar fashion to last season, there will be varied opinions about Ricciardo’s chances of securing a contract with the top teams in the sport.

Sergio Perez’s contract is valid until the end of 2024, and his current performances give Red Bull no reason to even consider a replacement anyway.

Ferrari’s drivers are also contracted to stay with the Scuderia for two seasons, meaning an opportunity at the Italian squad is also out of the question.

Lewis Hamilton’s future at Mercedes is not yet confirmed, but the British driver has already stated that he intends to continue with the Silver Arrows.

Even then, there is no evidence that Ricciardo would be the first choice for a replacement at Brackley.

Aston Martin, the only other team fighting at the front, seems unlikely to alter their Alonso-Stroll driver combination anytime soon.

Even looking further down the grid to Alpine or McLaren, the two midfield teams with ambitions (however realistic) to fight the front, opportunities are scarce for Ricciardo.

Rumours have circulated that Ricciardo could replace an underperforming De Vries at AlphaTauri, but Helmut Marko has already ruled the 8-time race winner out of contention for this seat.

Even without Marko’s input, a drive with a lower midfield team like AlphaTauri does not seem compatible with the Australian’s criteria for an F1 return.

In any case, the upcoming months will determine the options that will be available for Ricciardo.


Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang