Despite the 2022 Formula 1 season being officially complete, ‘silly season’ is somewhat still not over, with two drivers waiting to sign deals with new teams.
The first of those is Daniel Ricciardo, who completed his last race for McLaren on Sunday at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where he ended his two-year spell at the Woking-based team with a ninth-place finish.
Ricciardo is set to take a sabbatical in 2023 before targeting a full-time return to the sport in 2024, should he manage to seal a competitive seat.
So, what will he do next season?
Well, initially it was heavily reported that the Australian was going to sign for Mercedes incredibly, to become their new reserve driver.
This now isn’t the case, although, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff did confirm in Abu Dhabi that “discussions” did take place between the duo.
“There were certainly discussions,” Wolff confirmed.
“Plus, he’s a great guy, of course.
“It’s a real pity that Daniel doesn’t have a seat, because he just belongs in a race car. I don’t think anyone really understands why it didn’t work out between him and McLaren because he was so good in the years before.”
Ricciardo is now set for a return to former side Red Bull in 2023, the team he claimed seven of his eight F1 victories with.
The 33-year-old’s move to the Austrians was leaked by Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko, who later backtracked on his comments.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner also suggested that a deal between the two had been done.
According to reports, Ricciardo will hold a development driver role for 2023, which will see him complete work in the simulator and also take part in a number of demo runs.
Wolff added that Mercedes potentially took “too much time” deciding whether to sign Ricciardo or not; however, the Austrian is hopeful that he’ll be offered a “good deal” by his “home”.
“Perhaps we just needed too much time to think about what we wanted,” Wolff added.
“Plus, Red Bull is his home, he knows the people and I hope he will sign a good deal there.”
With Ricciardo off to Red Bull, Mercedes are supposedly very interested in signing axed driver Mick Schumacher, who is without a job for 2023.
Wolff has stated that the Schumacher name “belongs to Mercedes”, with a reserve role for the German a real possibility.