Daniel Ricciardo breaks silence on being scared as 2024 options look slim

Daniel Ricciardo attended his first Grand Prix of the season in Australia, following his departure from McLaren at the end of 2022.

Red Bull development driver Daniel Ricciardo isn’t afraid of a potential lack of seats on the grid for 2024, with the 33-year-old still targeting a return to Formula 1 next season.

Ricciardo opted to take a season away from the sport after spending two years underperforming at McLaren, which resulted in his 2023 deal with the Woking-based team being terminated.

To remain amongst the paddock, Ricciardo returned to Red Bull, a team he claimed seven victories for from 2014-2018.

As part of his development driver role, Ricciardo is completing simulator and marketing work; however, he is set to test for the Austrians later in the year.

Want to work in Formula 1? Browse the latest F1 job vacancies

His one-year sabbatical is clearly doing the trick for Ricciardo given that he wants to return, should a seat even be available.

With most contracts on the grid not expiring until the end of 2024, Ricciardo might be forced to take another season out, unless he’s happy to accept a seat at the likes of Alfa Romeo or Haas.

The potential lack of seats “doesn’t scare” Ricciardo, though, with him having been aware at the end of last season that leaving the grid even for a year would “be a risk”.

“It doesn’t scare me. It’s always been like that,” Ricciardo told Top Gear.

Article continues below

“And I knew this was going to be a risk obviously removing myself from a seat. But I think it’s clear what I don’t want. I don’t want [just] any seat next year, as much as I think I want to be racing again.

“I don’t want to just start from zero, and kind of build my [F1] career from scratch. It’s not coming from an arrogant place. But I’m just past that.

“I don’t think that’s going to stimulate me or give me that second wind I’m looking for. So it makes the top seats even scarcer. But that’s where I know I will be able to perform at my best and thrive.

“That’s the sort of stuff I’m keeping my eyes on.”

He’s certainly been using his time away from the sport to his advantage, with Ricciardo having explored several other “projects on the side”.

F1 remains his priority, though, with him having already started “getting fit again” after not training for a couple of months.

“I think [I’m] also understanding the things I’ve learnt in these first three months, the things I want to invest more energy in,” Ricciardo explained.

“And there’s other things, which are like, alright, I’ll remove these from my plate, and just kind of spend more quality time on fewer projects as opposed to just scattered efforts on many.

“The two big ones for me I’d say are the wine [DR3 X St Hugo Wines], and the clothing business [Enchante by Daniel Ricciardo]. These are the things I’m genuinely really enjoying and invested in.

READ: George Russell responds to fans over memes about him

“So they’re my fun little hobbies. I say hobbies. They’re turning into something else. But they’re my fun projects on the side.

“And then it’s [also] nice just getting time to myself. Honestly I didn’t train for like two months, because I just needed to give myself time off. And now I’m getting back into it, and I want to be getting fit again.

“I don’t know. I’m just learning a lot through all of this.”