The Daniel Ricciardo saga rumbles on and on, with the Australian’s destination for next year still unknown.
It became evident weeks ago that the 33-year-old would not be taking a seat at Haas or Williams, and was planning to take a year out of the sport before returning with a top team in 2024.
Firstly it was Mercedes to be linked with the Australian, with the Silver Arrows looking for a reserve driver to replace the AlphaTauri bound Nyck de Vries, then at the United States Grand Prix it appeared that Red Bull had become the favourites to take on Ricciardo.
With the odds on Ricciardo’s team for next year fluctuating on a daily basis, it is anyone’s guess where he will end up, with Ricciardo himself stating that nothing is set in stone yet.
“I’m obviously talking to some teams but nothing is fixed yet,” he told reporters recently.
The biggest hint yet may have just emerged however, with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff being photographed wearing Ricciardo’s clothing range after being gifted the jumper by the Australian.
“I’m promoting his merchandise now. No seriously, I really like it,” said Wolff.
“They took a picture of me with the silly sunglasses as well and put it online. I didn’t expect it to end up on the internet or social media because that probably wasn’t my best moment.”
Ricciardo confirmed that he had sent the Mercedes boss the jumper, adding more fuel to the fire surrounding his future.
“I gave George (Russell) a sweater from my collection and Toto wrote to me afterwards to say that he really likes it.
“So I said ‘you’ll get one too’.”
Ricciardo has reassured fans that his year off is all a part of his plan to return to the grid to fight for victories once again in 2024, but some have questioned his pathway at Mercedes and Red Bull.
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell are set to stay at Mercedes for the foreseeable future, while Sergio Perez, who is the most likely of the Red Bull drivers to leave, has two years left on his contract.
This leaves Ricciardo’s path slightly unclear, with a reserve driver role at both teams seemingly unlikely to lead to a race seat in 2024, leaving the Australian to look elsewhere.
After a rocky two seasons at McLaren, where the usually infectiously happy 33-year-old has looked dejected and a shadow of himself, a sabbatical seemed the best option for Ricciardo to get back to his best.