Daniel Ricciardo’s hopes of being behind the wheel of a car that can keep him competitive look to have flown out the window.
The Aussie wants to remain on the grid in 2023, but not to just make up the numbers. His aim is to remain competitive and join a team that can give him a shot near the front.
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Unfortunately those options have dwindled and now look to be almost completely shot after a fellow Aussie emerged to push him even further down the pecking order.
After Ricciardo’s McLaren contract was cut a year short, the West Australian has been weighing up exactly what his future looks like.
With Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari continually dominating the front of the grid, Ricciardo was linked with a move to Alpine to take the seat vacated by Fernando Alonso and then Oscar Piastri who shunned the offer after signing with McLaren.
Ricciardo raced with Alpine – formerly Renault – for two seasons and the door was said to be open for his return, but that seat looks to be gone with the French outfit looking elsewhere.
Alpine, currently the fourth best team on the grid, are without a second driver for the 2023 season. They had reportedly signed AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, that move was however dependent on IndyCar’s Colton Herta obtaining a Super License.
Herta would then take Gasly’s vacant seat at AlphaTauri, allowing Gasly to join the Alpine team alongside Esteban Ocon.
Now Aussie Jack Doohan has emerged as a serious threat to jump the queue and line up on the grid next season.
Formula 1 journalist Will Buston believes the team is wrestling with the idea of throwing the rising Aussie ace who has produced each race weekend in Formula 2 into the drivers seat.
“The Gasly, Herta story seems to be going off the boil with Alpine seemingly no longer confident they’ll get the Frenchman. Incredibly for F1’s 4th best team their options are few and far between for the seat. Doohan is quietly moving into prime position to jump from F2,” Buxton wrote.
“What options do they have? Schumacher appears to not be a consideration. A RIC return looks off the cards. Vandoorne? De Vries? Perhaps on a 1 year deal before Doohan races in 24. Understand team wrestling with answering question of why not 23 if they know they want him for 24.”
Currently Alfa Romeo, AlphaTauri, Alpine, Haas and Williams have vacant seats for 2023 with Ricciardo reportedly being chased by multiple.
Ricciardo proclaimed he was “open minded” when asked about the possibility of joining one of the three top teams in a back-up role.
“I’m pretty open minded with any scenario. I think there’s pros and cons with all of it. 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,” Ricciardo said after the Dutch Grand Prix.
“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.”