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Daniel Ricciardo has insisted he would be open to taking a reserve driver role with Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull if it were offered to him. And the driver’s relationship with both Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen may give him a boost as he prepares to resolve his future in Formula 1.
The Australian will leave McLaren at the end of the 2022 season after the British manufacturer signed Oscar Piastri on a pre-contract agreement in a controversial move. Piastri had been Alpine’s reserve driver and was announced as the Enstone team’s partner for Esteban Ocon in 2023, only for the 21-year-old to confirm he had signed a deal with McLaren.
Ricciardo has agreed a substantial pay-off with McLaren to terminate the final year of his contract and it means the 33-year-old is looking for a new team for the third time in four years.
It remains possible that he will find another seat elsewhere, with links to both Alpine and Haas. But Ricciardo has openly discussed the possibility of taking up a reserve driver role with one of the big three teams in F1 at Mercedes, Ferrari and even his former team Red Bull.
READ MORE: Piastri admits Ricciardo regret after McLaren switch
“I’m pretty open minded with any scenario. I think there’s pros and cons with all of it,” he said. “There’s pros with having some time off as well, currently the 18 months I’ve had has been more challenging than not so maybe some time away would be good.
“But then also staying active is good. That’s why I kind of want to hear everything. Even if it’s a reserve, I don’t want to be too proud to say I’m too good for that.
“I just want to hear everything and see what makes sense. It could be something that sets me up better for the future and next year may be one of those years where I need a bit of patience.”
And given how Hamilton and Verstappen have reacted to the news that Ricciardo is a free agent, they may not be against the idea of working alongside the experienced racer for 2023, even if it means he is at the back of the garage rather than adjacent to them.
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“It’s really unfortunate for Daniel but I really, really hope that…[he finds a place],” Hamilton said back in August. “I still think he deserves a place here in the sport so I really hope there is somewhere great for him because he has still got lots to achieve.”
The Briton has never worked with Ricciardo but the pair have their stint at McLaren in common, with Hamilton at 37 nearing the end of his career. It has been floated that Mercedes could consider Ricciardo as a potential replacement for Hamilton when he does eventually leave the sport.
A return for Red Bull would have looked almost impossible four years ago after Ricciardo snubbed a new contract to join Renault, much to the annoyance of team principal Christian Horner. But Verstappen’s friendly relationship with Ricciardo, having raced alongside each other from 2016 to 2018, could see him make an astonishing return if a reserve role arises.
“He’s a great guy, he’s an amazing driver,” Verstappen said. “I hope he stays in Formula 1 but we have to wait and see where that will be.”
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