Written by Diya Gohil, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri
The penultimate round of the 2022 Formula 1 season beckons, and to the despair of many fans, Daniel Ricciardo has not been able to find himself a seat for the 2023 F1 season. Ricciardo has been a big part of the sport ever since joining HRT in 2011. He then went on to drive for Toro Rosso, post which he received a promotion to Red Bull, with later stints at Renault, and now Mclaren.
Ricciardo’s future has been a topic of debate for some time now, with most of the seats filled for next season. Pierre Gasly has taken the seat at Alpine, with Nyck De Vries taking his place alongside Yuki Tsunoda at Alpha Tauri. Haas will continue with Kevin Magnussen, though the case of Mick Schumacher is still up in the air, both having established a stable relationship with the team, and aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the car, which a new driver may take a while to grasp. The seat at Williams too was one that Ricciardo would’ve been unlikely to take. Ricciardo has himself confirmed that he will not be on the Formula 1 grid next year, and is targeting a space on the grid in the 2024 Formula 1 season, aiming to “come back with a vengeance”.
Although it does bring into question: Is there really a possibility of Ricciardo getting a seat in 2024? There has been recent speculation of Ricciardo possibly taking on the reserve driver role for Mercedes, as the team’s reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne has moved to Aston Martin, taking on the same role. What options does Ricciardo have for 2024? Alfa Romeo driver Zhou Guanyu’s contract takes him through the 2023 season, but a seat in 2024 can be a possibility for Ricciardo alongside Valtteri Bottas, if Zhou’s contract is not extended with the Swiss team. With Audi reaching an agreement to take over the Sauber Team from 2026, it could hold an opportunity for Ricciardo to be part of a strong branded team with significant resources, working out to be a long term solution for the Australian. It is possible for them to take on Ricciardo, allowing them to have not one, but two experienced Formula 1 drivers within a new team, although Sauber do have their own Academy drivers, including Formula 2 driver Théo Pourchaire likely to be considered for the seat.
With Ricciardo not wanting to head to some teams lower-down the grid, it leaves Alfa Romeo as Ricciardo’s most likely and only choice to return back to F1 in the 2024 season. To look at it bluntly, it seems a long shot for Ricciardo to gain a secure place back in F1, with so many new, up-and-coming drivers with potential. However, he has been one of the most loved drivers on and off track, and an incredibly talented person in the sport, who will truly be missed in an F1 car by many.