Red Bull development driver Daniel Ricciardo is still determined to return to the Formula 1 grid next season, with the Australian having revealed that he feels “more refreshed” following his hiatus from the sport.
Ricciardo opted to take a year away from racing as a result of his “difficult” spell at McLaren, which ended with his contract being terminated for 2023.
Based on the performances already by Ricciardo’s replacement Oscar Piastri, it does appear that the 33-year-old and McLaren made the right decision, with Piastri already pushing team-mate Lando Norris.
When alongside Ricciardo, Norris was more often than not the lead McLaren driver and comfortably so, with the majority of the Woking-based team’s points having come thanks to the Briton.
Ricciardo has openly admitted that he two-year spell at McLaren wasn’t good; however, his time away from racing has given him an opportunity to reflect on what went wrong.
Returning to Red Bull in a behind-the-scenes role has seemingly done wonders for the fan favourite, who is set to take part in a Pirelli tyre test for the Austrians after the British Grand Prix in July.
Ricciardo, of course, raced for Red Bull from 2014 until the end of 2018, when he made the switch to Renault.
During his five-year stint racing for the Milton Keynes-based outfit, Ricciardo claimed seven wins, with him very much being a beloved member of the team.
When he’s been in the paddock this season the smile on his face has been easy to see, with him clearly being eager to return to the grid in 2024.
“I do want to get back next year,” he said.
“I do want to compete. I feel more refreshed, and obviously, I’ve flushed out a difficult two years. So I’m in a good place.”
Whilst it’s great that Ricciardo wants to return to the cockpit full-time, the biggest issue is that it’s difficult to see where he could end up.
He’s openly admitted that he doesn’t want to just make up the numbers and is keen to be back towards the front of the grid, the issue is though, there aren’t any seats available in the leading teams.
With Lewis Hamilton set to sign a new contract, Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, Aston Martin, and Alpine all won’t have a seat available until 2025, meaning Ricciardo’s only option to return to F1 next season would be if he looks towards the back of the grid.
Ricciardo’s only real chance of returning to the grid would be if he’d happily join Sauber, Haas or Williams, with those three teams being the only ones where a seat is currently available for 2024.
AlphaTauri also have potentially two seats available for 2024; however, Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has admitted that Ricciardo won’t be considered.