Daniel Ricciardo has returned to his hilarious prankster-self ahead of this weekend’s returning Singapore Grand Prix, after revealing that having some time with his family prior to the race helped him “feel like a kid again”.
The Aussie who is still searching for a 2023 seat following his incoming McLaren departure, has recently told reporters that he’d “accepted” the prospect of sitting on the side-lines for a season potentially as a reserve driver; however, a recent interview has given the impression that the 33-year-old might know something the world doesn’t.
Ricciardo is known to have held discussions about a potential move to Haas for next year, but Guenther Steiner informed the media that they wouldn’t pursue the eight-time GP winner until he decides if he wants to race next season.
With the Honey Badger now appearing to have made up his mind, then perhaps talks with the Americans or even Williams have restarted, with the pair being the only realistic options for the Perth-born driver.
Ahead of the first race in Singapore since 2019, Ricciardo revealed that his team are talking to “pretty much everyone”, as he tries to find an option for 2023 that “makes the most sense”.
“My team is talking with, I want to say, pretty much everyone. They are having conversations,” he said to the Daily Mail Australia in Singapore.
“So we’re just trying to put it all together and figure out what makes the most sense. It’s not that they’re not calling or they’re not interested, though I’m not coming from a place of overconfidence, we’re just doing our due diligence.”
Ricciardo’s choice appears to be between a reserve role, or a backmarker seat at Williams or Haas.
The Australian has been linked to an appearance next season in NASCAR with the Trackhouse Racing team; however, the veteran driver has ruled out a move to another motorsport series after not being ready to “check out” of F1.
“That’s the two, I would say, realistic options. Like it’s not to be anywhere else,” he said.
“I love other disciplines of motorsport, but I don’t see myself there, at least. I feel as well, if I jump into something like that, it closes the door in F1. It [would] feel like I’ve checked out and I haven’t.”
The biggest issue for Ricciardo is that he doesn’t want to be a backmarker driver in F1, he’s made it perfectly clear that he wants to “be back on the podium” after getting the “taste” for victory whilst at Red Bull.
In all fairness, some could argue that Ricciardo doesn’t deserve a top seat, given how poor he’s been at McLaren.
The Aussie has scored points on just 17/38 occasions for the Woking-based team, compared to Lando Norris’ 32/38 since the start of 2021.
A number of seats are likely to be available at the end of 2023 due to a considerable number of contracts being due to expire, none bigger than Sir Lewis Hamilton’s.
Ricciardo is currently “weighing up” his options but admits “plan A” is to be on the 2023 grid.
“I’m still keen to be part of F1,” revealed the Aussie.
“Of course, Plan A would to be on the grid, so nothing’s changed, but I don’t want to just jump at the first seat available. I know the landscape has probably changed as well at the end of next year with contracts or whatever, so I’m remaining open.
“I know that if I choose to take a reserve role or not race next year, nothing’s guaranteed. So that comes at a risk, but that’s what we are weighing up. At this stage, especially with a top team, there are no guarantees.”
“What fighting at the front does — when you’ve had that taste, it’s real. That’s ultimately where I want to be.
“I guess I don’t want to just race to race. I want to race with a true belief and understanding that I could be back on the podium.”
The McLaren driver has appeared to be in fine form at Singapore, demonstrating the behaviour that has made him loved amongst fans.
He’s been flipping scooters around the Marina Bay Circuit, photobombing other drivers and even gate-crashing press conferences.
You wouldn’t think he’s currently set for a year out based on his antics, but he’s highlighted how important it was to spend time with his family after Monza to be a “kid again”.
“After Monza we did a bit of sim and some factory stuff but then I got to get home, and it was kind of just nice being around family and switching off and spending some time at the farm and even just doing fun things — riding bikes and just being a bit of a kid again,” he said.