Daniel Ricciardo believes reserve driver role 'realistic' way to stay in Formula One – ESPN

SINGAPORE — Daniel Ricciardo concedes it may now be “realistic” for him to take a reserve driver role for 2023 if he wishes to remain in Formula One.
The Australian’s future has been up in the air since August when McLaren reached a settlement to conclude his three-year contract 12 months ahead of schedule, before announcing that highly-touted compatriot Oscar Piastri would be Lando Norris’ teammate from next year.
The eight-time race winner claimed he had “no hard feelings” over his McLaren axing, but with just three seats available for next season — one each at Alpine, Haas and Williams — Ricciardo’s chances of remaining a fulltime driver in Formula One look slim.
Instead, a reserve driver role could pave the way for another F1 opportunity in 2024, with several key contracts set to expire at the end of next season and a driver merry-go-round to likely follow.
“For me to remain in the sport, that’s a realistic place for me to be next year,” said Ricciardo, when asked if he would entertain a role as a reserve driver, following a poor showing in qualifying at the Singapore Grand Prix.
“I know the [F1] landscape probably changes as well at the end of next year, with contracts and whatever, so I don’t want to just look at the next 12 months and not look at the next 24. I’m remaining open. I’m solely focused on F1 and we’ll see.”
Earlier in the weekend, Ricciardo appeared more bullish about his prospects of landing one of the three fulltime seats still unoccupied.
“My [management] team is talking with pretty much everyone. They’re having conversations,” he said. “Plan A is to be on the grid [but] we’re just trying to put it all together and figure out what makes the most sense. It’s not that they’re not calling or they’re not interested.
“But let’s say, I don’t want to just jump at the first seat available. What fighting at the front does, when you’ve had that taste, it’s real, and that’s ultimately where I want to be, so I guess I don’t want to just [go from] race to race. I want to race with a true belief and understanding that I can be back on the podium.”
There had also been speculation Ricciardo could try his hand in another racing category or even feature in one-off events, such as Supercars’ Bathurst 1000. However, Ricciardo put that speculation to rest by emphatically ruling it out.
“I love other disciplines of motorsport but I don’t see myself there,” he said. “I feel as though if I jump into something like that then it closes the door on F1. It [would] kind of feel like I had checked out, and I haven’t.”
Despite his unlikely win in Italy last year, Ricciardo’s near two-year tenure at McLaren has been mostly a struggle. The victory in Monza remains his sole podium for the team, while Norris has consistently had the edge on him in both qualifying and on race day.
This year, Ricciardo has managed just four points-scoring finishes and sits 14th in the drivers’ standings ahead of the race in Singapore.
But if no fulltime or reserve driver role is landed and 2022 is to be his final year in Formula One, Ricciardo says he will take away plenty of “positives” and won’t leave the sport with any regrets.
“[I’m] at peace with whatever’s going to happen in 2023, because I feel like everything’s going to happen for a reason and all these things will make sense,” he said. “I mean, it could make me fricking start foaming at the mouth, wanting to get back [but] if I’m not to be racing [in F1], then I feel like there could be a blessing in all that.”


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