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Daniel Ricciardo won’t be on the grid for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix. Instead, Ricciardo will spend his time at what is typically his home race as Red Bull’s reserve driver.
However, he says that some ‘signs are pointing’ to him making a return to Formula 1.
Alan Jones, one of two Aussies along with the late Jack Brabham to win a Formula 1 World Championship, disagrees, but let’s hear what Danny Ric has to say first, shall we?
According to The Athletic, Ricciardo spoke to a few media members in Melbourne about what he sees as his rosy F1 prospects.
“The signs are pointing towards getting back on the grid,” Ricciardo said “I feel like that’s currently where I’m tracking, at least in my head. … I’ve even put myself in scenarios now where I’m like, if I got back on the grid tomorrow, what would I do differently? You just don’t have the chance when you’re in it. But I also think that everything happens for a reason.”
Ricciardo said that having time away from the sport has helped him process what was a rough couple of seasons for him.
“Having the chance to step back and just review everything from afar, and with the luxury of time as well, not to be forced to make a decision or rush anything, I feel that if I’m to get back on the grid, I honestly believe I’ll be a better version of myself. A more mature, experienced, complete version.”
It sure seems like he’s in a good headspace, but Alan Jones thinks his countryman’s days in F1 are over.
Jones Doesn’t See An Opportunity for Ricciardo in ’24
Alan Jones, who won the 1980 title for Williams, talked to The Herald Sun about where Ricciardo could slot in next season.
Unfortunately for the affable Aussie, there don’t seem to be a whole lot of options.
“I don’t think he will get a drive at Red Bull unless something happens to the two current drivers [Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez],” Jones said. “I can’t see him doing a Grand Prix.
Jones also noted that Ferrari — a team that once seemed like a good fit when Ricciardo was at his peak — doesn’t seem to have an opening either.
“I can’t see anybody at Ferrari resigning or going away, so I just can’t see where he can go, Jones said “Obviously, everybody likes to go out on a high note, and it’s just unfortunate that for whatever reason, and I don’t even think he knows himself, why his performance dropped off.
“As I said before, I just can’t see him getting back into Formula 1.”
So… Who’s Right?
I think that a Daniel Ricciardo who has assessed and come to terms with his disastrous stint at McLaren could be a good pick-up. The only problem is what team is going to be in a position to bring the 33-year-old aboard?
Red Bull seems out of the question, and even if Ferrari decides to move on from Carlos Sainz, there’s a certain 7-time champion named Lewis Hamilton who might be available.
I’m just spit-ballin’ here, if Hamilton did move, that would open up a seat at Mercedes. The team’s reserve driver is the incident-prone Mick Schumacher, while their old reserve driver, Nyck de Vries is in the Red Bull camp at AlphaTauri. Ricciardo may not be a bad stopgap before a new, up-and-comer is ready to jump in the seat.
Looking around the grid, Aston Martin, Alpine, and Williams seem to have fairly locked-in lineups. Alfa Romeo (or whatever they’re called next year) could be an option. So could AlphaTauri, Red Bull’s sister team.
Haas looked to be on the table last season. Maybe they would be in the next year if they want to move on from Kevin Magnussen.
I think it may be tough for Ricciardo to crack the 2024 grid. However, if he can keep himself in the picture for a few more years, there could be another option. He might be a good choice for any new teams joining the grid. He’d be in his mid-to-late 30s, but he’d bring a lot of useful experience to a new operation.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle