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‘Hitting pause’: Ricciardo expects to sit out 2023 F1 season

Daniel Ricciardo says he does not expect to be racing in Formula One next season, but is setting his sights on a return to the grid in 2024.

Ricciardo’s revelation comes after the latest spate of driver moves narrowed down the out-of-contract Mclaren driver’s options.

Earlier on Saturday, French manufacturer Alpine announced it had signed AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly on a multi-year deal to replace Aston Martin-bound Fernando Alonso.

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.

Ricciardo’s only options to remain on the grid are with eighth-placed Haas or last-placed Williams.

“I knew they were talking for a while and I knew though they were very interested in Pierre,” said Ricciardo 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 teammate Lando Norris at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.

But results have largely failed to meet expectations, with McLaren choosing to terminate his deal 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 has experienced an unhappy stint with McLaren.(Pool via Reuters: Geer Vanden Wijngaert)

Ricciardo, who made his debut with now-defunct HRT at the 2011 British Grand Prix, 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.”

Ricciardo came agonisingly close to starting Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix inside the top 10, before being pipped late in qualifying. 

The McLaren driver was knocked out of the second qualifying session after finishing 11th, just 0.03 seconds behind Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel.

Reuters/ABC

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