Mercedes are reportedly prepared to offer Daniel Ricciardo a reserve role with them next season after the Australian’s departure from McLaren.
Ricciardo joined his current team at the start of last season having spent just two years with Renault, and he and Lando Norris were expected to form one of the best line-ups on the grid.
Sadly for the 33-year-old, things have not quite worked out that way, and he has struggled to adapt to a tricky McLaren car.
This has often left him suffering a deficit to Norris, both on pace and in the standings, although his famous win in Monza last year was an example of what he can do when he is at one with the car.
Those moments have been few and far between, and Ricciardo has been out-qualified 28 times in 37 races by Norris, who has managed five podiums during their time together.
The 22-year-old has had a much better time of wrestling control of his car, and he has consistently been able to find its sweet spot more often than his team-mate.
In the end, both McLaren and Ricciardo were forced to accept that their partnership has not worked out and, despite previously affirming that they would go to the end of the Perth-born racer’s contract, they will part ways by mutual consent at the end of 2022.
This begs the question as to where Ricciardo will end up next year, with a return to Renault – now Alpine – initially on the cards.
However, Renault CEO, Luca de Meo, is not said to be particularly pleased about the way the right-time race winner left at the end of 2020, and the Enstone-based side now seem set on signing Pierre Gasly from AlphaTauri.
There have allegedly been conversations with Haas, while seats at Alfa Romeo, AlphaTauri and Williams are all available for 2023 as it stands.
Meanwhile at Mercedes, Sir Lewis Hamilton also has a contract that sees him stay at the German side until the end of next year, at which point he will be 38.
As the Briton approaches his forties, Mercedes will naturally have to start looking at who they want to replace him, and they would have Ricciardo as an option to partner George Russell in 2024 were they to make him their reserve driver in 2023.
“Having Daniel in their camp means they wouldn’t be left high and dry,” a source told the Daily Mail.
Ricciardo will be replaced by Alpine reserve driver, Oscar Piastri, next season.