Australian Formula One star Daniel Ricciardo has spoken about his future ahead of the sport’s return to Singapore’s dazzling Marina Bay Street circuit.
As Ricciardo prepared for his first attempt on the streets of Singapore in a McLaren, questions surrounding his future continued to mount.
Despite agreeing to an early termination of his three-year contract with McLaren more than a month ago, the future of the 33-year-old Australian remains unclear.
Unconfirmed 2023 seats remain at Alpine, Williams and Haas, but a reserve driver role higher up the grid has loomed as a potential option for Ricciardo.
The eight-time Grand Prix winner revealed that “the space for my head is in the same space” he prefers to race in Formula One in 2023.
“Yes, I still want to be part of Formula 1,” he said.
“Of course, Plan A was to be on the grid, so nothing has changed, but like I said, I don’t want to just jump into the first available spot.
“Honestly, my team talks to almost everyone and they have conversations.
“So we’re just trying to put it all together and figure out what makes the most sense.
“We’re just doing our due diligence and figuring out what’s best. Trying to look ahead to next year because for me I want to be racing but I also don’t want to just look at the next 12 months instead of the next 24.”
A role as a reserve driver at Mercedes has been rumored in recent weeks and Ricciardo did not rule it out, but said there was still a desire to return to the F1 podium rather than chasing other challenges such as IndyCar or the Bathurst 1000.
“It (the back-up driver role) is definitely realistic, yes,” he said.
“Those (reserves with a better team or full-time with a smaller team) are two, I would say, realistic options. I shouldn’t be anywhere else, I mean I love the other disciplines of motorsport, but I never see myself there.
“At least I feel good as well, if I jump into something like that, it will close the door to F1 and it will feel like I’ve checked out and not. I am focused purely on F1 and, yes, we will see.
“I don’t want to just race, I want to race with the belief and understanding that I’m going to get back on the podium.”
With much speculation surrounding his next move, Ricciardo admitted the rare two-week break was a relief amid a busy F1 calendar, giving him some perspective as he weighs up his future.
“It was good. I was at home for part of it, after Monza I did a bit of SIM work and factory stuff, but then I had to go home and it was nice to be with my family and switch off,” he said.
“I spent some time on the farm and did some fun things like riding bikes and being a kid again.
“It’s kind of like a little bit of time that stays on the sidelines, it’s very powerful and it reminds you how much you miss him, and so if I’m not racing next year, I feel like there might be a blessing in all of this.
“I could be foaming at the mouth wanting to go back, so I’d love to be back on the gridiron, but I can also see the positives if it’s not.
“That’s why I’m calm about what’s going to happen in 2023, because it’s going to happen for a reason.”
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