Daniel Ricciardo appears to have accepted the inevitable – that he won't be on the Formula One grid next season.
After a flurry of F1 moves saw Alpine and Alpha Tauri fill their vacant seats for next season ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix, the Australian driver is left with only two options.
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Backmarkers Williams and Haas don't offer any appeal to the eight-time race winner, however his announcement that 'the reality is now I won't be on the grid' has left many fans and F1 observers concerned he could be lost to the sport.
It would be a rare feat if Ricciardo were to sit out for a year and then make a return to a competitive team in 2024, but the 33-year-old remains adamant he is not finished in F1.
“I think the reality is now I won‘t be on the grid in 2023,” he said.
“I think it’s now just trying to set up for 2024."
An unlikely reunion with Alpine (formerly Renault) would have been Ricciardo's best chance of landing a competitive seat for next season, but after he left the team to join McLaren in 2021 there was little interest from the French manufacturer.
Alpine's announcement that they had signed French driver Pierre Gasly precipitated Alpha Tauri's announcement they had signed former F2 champion Nyck de Vries as well.
“I think that there could be some better opportunities (in 2024), so that‘s really what all this confirms and now where the sights are set," Ricciardo said.
“To be honest, the Gasly news I was aware of. I knew they were they were talking for a while and I knew though they were very interested in Pierre.
“Let‘s say I was prepared for that and (it was) no surprise, so we were trying to navigate our way around that and figure out what was next.”
Ricciardo is Australia's most prolific F1 driver, having started 232 grands prix and earned 32 podiums and 3 pole positions.
F1 commentator Will Buxton was one of many to voice their concern that Ricciardo would be lost to F1 completely if he ends up deciding not to join Haas or Williams.
Buxton, who provides commentary both for F1 and Netflix series Drive to Survive, said Ricciardo's decision was 'unfathomable'.
"Daniel’s sabbatical doesn’t make sense to me. I genuinely don’t understand the reasoning," he wrote on Twitter.
"I’d argue he stands to gain nothing. And I worry he won’t race in F1 again, certainly not for a team in the top half of the grid, & stands to waste some brilliantly competitive years waiting for a half chance when he could and should be in a racecar showing us the Daniel we know.
"If the F1 dream is over, sooner he makes peace with it and finds a new lease of life in a championship where he can be competitive.
"That’s why I’d have loved to see him in Indycar. Not sat in the back of a garage twiddling his thumbs."
Would love to see @danielricciardo come in @IndyCar 💯🇺🇸 https://t.co/DhXgT0ryNS
— Romain Grosjean (@RGrosjean) October 8, 2022
Daniel Ricciardo says he won't be on the 2023 #F1 grid and is looking now at 2024 prospects. No great surprise, given paucity of options, but still a shame. #JapaneseGP
— Phillip Horton (@PHortonF1) October 8, 2022
So there we have it 💔
As reported by @PHortonF1, Daniel Ricciardo will not be on the F1 grid in the 2023 season.
I do believe a year out will help him reset, but of course it’s sad to see the driver who got me to love F1 won’t be racing next year. pic.twitter.com/i2mqknvfIc
— Matt (@mattamys) October 8, 2022
So today in #F1:
⚫ Pierre Gasly confirmed by Alpine
⚫Nyck de Vries confirmed by AlphaTauri
⚫ Max Verstappen escapes losing pole after trip to stewards
⚫ Daniel Ricciardo admits he won't have a 2023 seat
It's 11am 😂 What a sport
— Daniel Moxon (@dmoxon_) October 8, 2022
Ricciardo's turbulent two seasons with McLaren has seen his standing in F1 fall, despite an impressive win in 2021 that marked the team's first since 2012.
Unfortunately, his consistent deficit in pace compared to teammate Lando Norris ultimately forced his hand, with fellow Australian Oscar Piastri stepping into his seat next year.
"I just don't understand why there would suddenly be a better seat on offer for 2024 at Haas/Williams?" F1 journalist Valentin Khorounzhiy wrote.
"Even if you don't subscribe to 'you're only as good as your last race'… well, in this case 'last two seasons' have been very poor, so… ?"
Ricciardo still has a handful of races to put his best foot forward, and will start 11th on. thegrid in Sunday's Japanese GP.
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