Mark Mann-Bryans, PA, Suzuka
Daniel Ricciardo has confirmed he is not expecting to be on the Formula One grid next year and is targeting a return to the sport in 2024.
Currently at McLaren, it was announced last month that Ricciardo will be replaced by fellow Australian Oscar Piastri for next season.
Ricciardo’s options for a drive elsewhere were already limited before both Pierre Gasly’s move to Alpine and Nyck de Vries coming in to race for AlphaTauri were announced at Suzuka on Saturday.
With only two seats remaining on the 2023 grid – one at Williams, the other at Haas – Ricciardo admits he instead will be gunning for a drive the following year.
“To be honest, the Gasly news I was aware of, I knew they were they were talking for a while and I knew though they were very interested in Pierre,” he said, shortly after qualifying 11th for Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.
“Let’s say I was prepared for that and no surprise so we were trying to, let’s say, navigate our way around that and figure out what was next.
“But I think the reality is now I won’t be on the grid in 2023, I think it’s now just trying to set up for for '24.
“I think that there could be some better opportunities then so that’s really what all this confirms and now where the sights are set.”
The 33-year-old has been heavily linked with a role as reserve driver at Mercedes and revealed he intends to be in and around F1 as opposed to seeking race seats elsewhere.
“Certainly the plan is still to be involved in F1,” he added.
“It’s kind of like just hitting pause for a little bit as I see it – and let’s say as far as my F1 career goes the full intention is (to be driving) for '24.
“Sure it could open up opportunities to maybe do some of that stuff but I if I feel it’s going to deviate away from my target then I will still say it’s not really where I’m looking.
“As fun or cool as it sounds to compete in something else the truth is, mentally, I’m not there yet. I’m still so so engaged in this and I think a bit of time off out of a seat will probably do me good.
“I would probably use that as opposed to trying to jump in something else and stay busy in a different category. I’d say pretty convincingly it wouldn’t happen anywhere else.”
Ricciardo has been ever-present in F1 since debuting for the now-defunct Hispania Racing at the 2011 British Grand Prix, going on to race for Toro Rosso, Red Bull and Renault before joining McLaren in 2021.