Daniel Ricciardo says that racing in 2024 is not part of his latest Red Bull contract. The Australian is set to join his former team in 2023 as a test driver.
Ricciardo had a dismal few years at McLaren as he was unable to adapt to the car. As a result, his less experienced teammate, Lando Norris, beat him on almost every occasion in 2021 and 2022, leading to widespread criticism. After F2 champion Oscar Piastri was announced as Ricciardo's replacement for 2023, the eight-time Grand Prix winner was left without a seat.
Ricciardo secured the third seat at Red Bull with some luck. He will do simulation testing and actively participate in the Austrian team's marketing. The Australian driver has an impressive social media following. But he will not be racing anytime soon, and his return to the grid has been postponed indefinitely.
Ricciardo told the Beyond the Grid podcast:
"A race seat for 2024 is not in my contract, but with time I will also get the answer as to whether I want to be back on the grid myself. Right now I don't feel ready, but it's my decision."
Daniel Ricciardo will stay involved with F1 off the track
Daniel Ricciardo believes his third driver role with Red Bull Racing will allow him to remain involved with the sport while he contemplates his options for the future. The Australian driver wanted a break from the sport citing exhaustion. Having the opportunity to drive an F1 car occasionally will ensure that the driver is fit enough to return to the grid, should he choose to.
Clarifying his position for next year, Daniel Ricciardo spoke to the on-site media at the Abu Dhabi test:
“To make things crystal clear, I’m still not on the grid next year. But look, it’s certainly a way to still stay involved and to give me the time necessary to take a back step... I just needed to step away for a bit, rebuild myself, reset a bit, and also just find the intense love for it. Because, at this level, if you don’t have that, then I’m not doing justice for myself or anyone around me. I’m not saying I’ve lost it, but I’m in fear of losing it.”
Ricciardo's former teammate Max Verstappen believes the Australian should have stayed longer with Red Bull in the first place but also understands why he left. Speaking to Formule1.nl, the Dutchman said:
“It would have been better for Daniel if he had stayed longer at Red Bull at the time. I did talk to him about it. It’s also about feeling comfortable somewhere. That was no longer the case at one point. Then you have to look at alternatives and make the trade-off between sporting success and feeling good somewhere.”
Daniel Ricciardo will once again play a pivotal role in Max Verstappen's career, as simulation testing is essential for teams to get a better picture of how the car behaves.