Daniel Ricciardo believes reserve driver role is a ‘realistic’ way to stay in Formula One

SINGAPORE – Daniel Ricciardo admits it may now be “realistic” for him to take on a reserve driver role for 2023 if he wishes to stay in Formula One.

The Australian’s future has been up in the air since August, when McLaren agreed to end his three-year contract 12 months ahead of schedule, before announcing that highly touted compatriot Oscar Piastri would be Lando Norris’s teammate. starting next year.

The eight-time race winner claimed he had “no hard feelings” over his sacking from McLaren, but with only three seats available for next season – one each at Alpine, Haas and Williams – Ricciardo’s chances of remaining a one-time driver complete in Formula One. look slim

Instead, a reserve driver role could pave the way for another F1 opportunity in 2024, with several key contracts set to expire at the end of next season and a driver merry-go-round likely to follow.

“For me, staying in the sport is a realistic place for me next year,” Ricciardo said, when asked if he would consider a role as a reserve driver, following a poor qualifying performance at the Singapore Grand Prix.

“I know that the [F1] The landscape will probably change at the end of next year as well, with contracts and whatever, so I don’t want to just look at the next 12 months and not look at the next 24. I’ll stay open. I’m focused solely on F1 and we’ll see.”

Earlier in the weekend, Ricciardo seemed more optimistic about his chances of landing one of the three full-time seats still vacant.

“Me [management] The team is talking to almost everyone. They are having conversations,” she said. “Plan A is to be in the network [but] we’re just trying to put it all together and figure out what makes the most sense. It is not that they do not call or that they are not interested.

“But let’s just say, I don’t want to just jump into the first available seat. What it does to fight up front, when you’ve had that taste, is real, and it’s ultimately where I want to be, so I guess I don’t want to just [go from] race to race I want to compete with the true conviction and understanding that I can return to the podium.”

There had also been speculation that Ricciardo could try his hand at another category of racing or even take part in one-off events, such as Supercars’ Bathurst 1000. However, Ricciardo put an end to that speculation by emphatically dismissing it.

“I love other disciplines of motorsport, but I don’t see myself there,” he said. “I feel like if I get into something like that, it closes the door on F1. It’s [would] I feel like I’m gone, and I haven’t.”

Despite his improbable victory in Italy last year, Ricciardo’s nearly two-year tenure at McLaren has mostly been a struggle. The win at Monza remains his only podium finish for the team, while Norris has always had the advantage over him both in qualifying and on race day.

This year, Ricciardo has managed just four points and sits 14th in the drivers’ standings before the race in Singapore.

But if a full-time or reserve driver’s job is not secured and 2022 is set to be his final year in Formula One, Ricciardo says he will take a lot of “positives” with him and will not regret leaving the sport.

“[I’m] at peace with what is going to happen in 2023, because I feel that everything is going to happen for a reason and all these things will make sense, ”he said. “I mean, it might make me foam at the mouth, wanting to go back. [but] if not I’m going to run [in F1]So I feel like there could be a blessing in all of that.”

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