Following the news that Lewis Hamilton is set to extend his current contract at Mercedes beyond 2023, it is looking increasingly more challenging for Daniel Ricciardo to return to the sport in 2024.
Ricciardo revealed recently that he is probably going to take a sabbatical in 2023, with it becoming ever more likely that he’ll take up a reserve driver role next season before returning to full-time Formula 1 in two years; however, it’s hard to predict where.
According to Sky Sports F1 journalist Ted Kravitz, Ricciardo has agreed to become a team’s reserve next season, but that, crucially, it isn’t Mercedes.
This goes against initial rumours that believed the Australian had signed a deal to replace AlphaTauri-bound Nyck de Vries as the Germans reserve, with it now looking like he may be returning to Red Bull.
Ricciardo is known to want a return to the front of the grid, but even in 2024 that doesn’t appear to be an option; in fact, there are very few seats available full-stop in 2024.
Should Hamilton sign a new deal as planned, then Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, Alpine, McLaren, Aston Martin and Williams (Logan Sargeant pending) will all have confirmed line-ups for the next two years.
It means that unless any drivers have their contract cancelled, only Alfa Romeo, Haas and AlphaTauri will have an available seat.
AlphaTauri would be very unlikely to take onboard the 33-year-old, given it’s a team based around giving young drivers experience before stepping up to Red Bull.
Alfa Romeo are likely to sign Theo Pourchaire in 2024 or 2025, given that he’s now been rumoured about a move to the side for the last two seasons.
That just leaves Haas, a side he probably could’ve joined this season had he wanted to remain on the grid next year.
It really is difficult to see Ricciardo featuring on the grid in 2024 as he has planned, with it looking like he won’t be able to take Hamilton’s seat at Mercedes due to him extending his deal.
Ricciardo has revealed that his future isn’t “banking on anyone” and that he actually wanted the seven-time World Champion to “stay” at Mercedes.
“The truth is I want him to stay in the sport,” Ricciardo said ahead of the Mexican GP.
“He’s one of the greatest ever to do it and I think competing with him, going wheel to wheel with him is fun, it’s awesome.
“I don’t think [my future is] relative to what others do. Opportunities will arise when they do.
“I’m not banking on anyone doing something so I can find my way. I want to take the time necessary, keep a little bit of distance to the sport and rebuild myself.”