For the time being, Daniel Ricciardo’s time as a Formula 1 driver is done, with the 33-year-old taking a sabbatical in 2023 following a disastrous two-year spell at McLaren.
Apart from his incredible victory at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, there has been very little for Ricciardo to celebrate in the last two years, who has sat predominantly in Lando Norris’ shadow.
Ricciardo’s P9 at the season finale last Sunday was actually one of his better performances, which were unfortunately incredibly rare in 2022, especially.
Had Ricciardo performed better this season then McLaren would’ve arguably beaten Alpine to fourth in the Constructors’ Championship relatively easily, given how many issues the French side have faced.
A sabbatical does seem to be the best thing for the Aussie, who is determined to return to the sport in 2024 as a full-time driver once again.
Where that full-time spot could be, though, is a very good question, given that there will be more options come 2025.
However, 1996 F1 World Champion Damon Hill wonders if a seat at Red Bull could become available for Ricciardo in 2024, should Max Verstappen’s relationship with Sergio Pérez continue to breakdown.
Ricciardo is reportedly set to return to his former side in 2023 as a development driver, meaning he would be in the fold to make a full-time return to the Austrians; he claimed seven victories for.
“It could be quite an interesting one if you think about the problems they have apparently had between Max and Sergio,” Hill told Sky Sports F1.
“Let’s say the toys go out of the pram and there is some sort of fall out there, Daniel Ricciardo could be in prime position.
“It is his home, and he does owe a lot to Red Bull so he will be very keen to be back in that fold.
“What is it about the prodigal son who returns?
“He could be in a good position coming back and having learned a lot in other places.
“It can be that you can improve having been somewhere else then returning to the place you started.”
Pérez is currently contracted to race for Red Bull until the end of 2024; however, the Austrians are no strangers to dropping a driver mid-contract.
Hill wonders if Pérez could be in trouble considering the amount of “power” and influence Verstappen appears to have in Red Bull’s set-up, with the double World Champion seemingly untouchable following issues in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
“I am sure that Sergio’s contract is watertight,” Hill continued, “and he will be there for a long time but if relationships deteriorate, sometimes it becomes unworkable, and the suspicion is Max has quite a lot of power in that team.”