Mercedes’ Sir Lewis Hamilton does not plan on walking away from Formula 1 any time soon, so there will be no place at Mercedes for Daniel Ricciardo.
Ricciardo joined McLaren at the start of last season, but the partnership has not worked out, and the Australian has struggled to consistently match the pace of team-mate Lando Norris.
The difficult decision was made during the summer break to end their tenure together, and Ricciardo will be replaced by Alpine reserve, Oscar Piastri, in 2023.
Since the announcement of the 33-year-old’s departure, moves to Alpine, Haas, AlphaTauri, Alfa Romeo and Williams have all been mentioned in the silly season rumour mill.
Ricciaro has not yet decided what he will do, and his options are running out as other drivers’ futures become clearer.
Alpine seem to be deciding between Ricciardo, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, and academy driver Jack Doohan, who has impressed in Formula 2 this season.
Team principal, Otmar Szafnauer, has affirmed that there are 14 drivers in his shortlist for the seat, and Ricciardo is almost certainly one of them.
Yuki Tsunoda is out of contract at the end of this season, while Gasly is contracted to the end of next year.
The Japanese driver is expected to sign an extension, and the 26-year-old’s departure would hinge on Alpine paying his buyout clause, as well as Red Bull finding a solid replacement.
Were both drivers to leave at the end of the season, the Red Bull junior side would need two new drivers, but they have an extensive pool of juniors to choose from, and they are currntly pursuing Andretti IndyCar driver, Colton Herta.
Zhou Guanyu is likely to re-sign with Alfa Romeo alongside Valtteri Bottas next year, while Mick Schumacher’s future is still being decided by Haas.
Nicholas Latifi has been playing himself back into contention of keeping his drive for next year recently but, if he leaves, the British side would have Formula 2 driver, Logan Sargeant, to call upon.
Nyck de Vries might also be an option; he is Mercedes’ current reserve driver, and he partook in a practice session with the Grove outfit in Barcelona earlier this year.
Another option is for Ricciardo to take a year away and come back in 2024, and that could involve becoming a Mercedes reserve with a view to replacing Hamilton when the seven-time champion calls it a day.
That though, is a long way off for the 37-year-old.
“For me, I feel healthier than I’ve ever felt. I’m feeling fit, I love what I’m doing,” said Hamilton in the press conference ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
“I don’t plan on stopping any time soon, sorry buddy,” he told Ricciardo, who was sat next to him.
Hamilton does not want to see his colleague on the side lines next season though, as he is better than that.
“He’s far too talented, and he’s earned the right to be amongst us all racing,” he added.
Ricciardo’s win with McLaren, their first since 2012, arrived at the Italian Grand Prix last year.