Daniel Ricciardo is certainly in a race against time to find a seat for 2023, with the much-loved Australian rapidly running out of options.
2022 has been disastrous for the 33-year-old at McLaren, with the Honey Badger having been comfortably second best to Lando Norris once again.
Bar his victory at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, the Aussie has failed to deliver the performances that the Woking-based side would’ve hoped for when they signed him.
His poor results are unquestionably one of the leading reasons as to why they’ve tried to end their relationship with Ricciardo early, in order to sign the extremely talented 2021 F2 World Champion Oscar Piastri.
Ricciardo has “accepted” that he might not be on the grid next season, with all the teams with available seats preferring other drivers.
Pierre Gasly is the favourite to sign for Alpine, with Mercedes reserve driver Nyck de Vries top of AlphaTauri’s list to replace the 26-year-old.
Haas are currently deciding whether to retain Mick Schumacher, or to sign one of Nico Hulkenberg or Antonio Giovinazzi.
Alfa Romeo are almost guaranteed to retain Zhou Guanyu, and should De Vries join AlphaTauri, then Williams Academy driver Logan Sargeant is the favourite to replace Nicholas Latifi.
1996 World Champion Damon Hill is adamant something has “gone wrong” with the Australian, who has arguably been on a downward spiral ever since he left Red Bull at the end of 2018.
“Danny’s been such a fantastic character for our sport, effervescent and always smiling and stuff, but something’s gone wrong,” said Hill on Sky F1.
“Not only in his pace at McLaren, but also in his strategy for getting himself in a competitive car. Something fell through the cracks there and let’s hope he comes up smelling of roses somewhere and we see him back at the front.”
With the Aussie being a usual non-points finisher this season, it’s very easy to forget that Ricciardo was one of the most formidable drivers on the grid only four or so years ago.
The McLaren driver has won eight F1 races since joining the championship, with the Australian having been a title contender not too long ago.
Hill questions whether teams are reluctant to sign Ricciardo due to the fear that his pace won’t ever come back, something he labels as a “big question mark”.
The Brit was asked if a reserve role at a top side would be the best option for Ricciardo, with Mercedes supposedly interested in signing the fan favourite.
“I think there is some logic to that. If you’re at least with a top team, even if you’re in the wings and waiting for the right opportunity, you will have information that is useful to another team perhaps, potentially.
“But every team manager would be looking at him and everyone, every team, will be looking at him and asking ‘where’s the pace gone? Is it coming back?’ And that’s the big question mark. We don’t know.”
Norris has undoubtedly destroyed Ricciardo since the start of 2021, the British driver has been magnificent for McLaren, and has without a doubt been the No. 1 driver.
However, the 22-year-old hates it when people try to suggest who is the lead driver at the fifth-placed team, after explaining that himself and Ricciardo “don’t work as number one and number two”.
“I love it when people think they know what they are talking about when in reality they have no idea. Sometimes the complete opposite is the reality,” Norris told Motorsport-Magazin.
“Before every single race we have a meeting where we go through how we can work well together as a team. It’s about how we don’t work as number one and number two.
“Daniel can help me in certain situations and I can help him sometimes. We have that discussion every weekend.
“It’s literally the opposite of a division of roles with number 1 and number 2 drivers. It’s about how we can work better as a unit to have better results at the end.”