Daniel Ricciardo on Saturday said he won’t be racing in Formula One next season but was setting his sights on a return to the grid in 2024, after the latest spate of driver moves narrowed down the out-of-contract Mclaren driver’s options.
French manufacturer Alpine earlier on Saturday said it had signed AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly on a multi-year deal to replace Aston Martin-bound Fernando Alonso in an all French line-up with Esteban Ocon at the Renault-owned team from next season.
Shortly after, AlphaTauri said it was replacing Gasly with Dutchman Nyck de Vries, who impressed by taking points on his debut as a stand-in for Alexander Albon at Williams in last month’s Italian Grand Prix.
“I knew they were talking for a while and I knew though they were very interested in Pierre,” said Ricciardo, whose only options now to remain on the grid are with eighth-placed Haas or last-placed Williams, at the Japanese Grand Prix.
“I think the reality is now I won’t be on the grid in 2023. I think it’s now just trying to set up for ‘24,” added the 33-year-old, who has won eight times in Formula One.
Ricciardo, who twice finished third in the overall drivers’ standings while racing for Red Bull, joined McLaren at the start of last season.
He handed the former champions their first win since 2012 in a one-two with team mate Lando Norris at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.
But results have largely failed to meet expectations, with McLaren choosing to terminate their deal with him one year early to make way for fellow Australian and rising star Oscar Piastri, who will make his F1 debut with the team next year.
Ricciardo, who made his debut with now-defunct HRT at the 2011 British Grand Prix, has previously said he wouldn’t rule a year out.
He has been linked with a reserve driver role at Mercedes alongside regulars Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.
“It’s kind of like just hitting pause for a little bit, as I see it and, let’s say, as far as my F1 career goes the full intention is for ‘24,” said Ricciardo, who ruled out racing in another category.
“As fun or cool as it sounds to compete in something else, the truth is mentally, I’m not there yet.
“I’m still so, so engaged in this and I think a bit of time off out of a seat will probably do me good.”