F1 news 2022: Daniel Ricciardo willing to accept reserve driver role in 2023, Singapore Grand Prix

Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo is at peace with the possibility he won’t be on the Formula 1 grid next year, but he’s open to being a reserve driver in 2023.

After a couple of underwhelming seasons with McLaren, the 33-year-old’s tenure with the Woking-based team was cut short with 12 months remaining on his contract.

Ricciardo will be replaced by young compatriot Oscar Piastri, the reigning Formula 2 champion, who will partner with British driver Lando Norris in 2023.

There has been mounting speculation about Ricciardo’s next move, but the Perth native is quickly running out of options. Only three F1 teams are yet to confirm their driver line-ups for 2023, with seats still available at Alpine, Haas and Williams.

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Speaking to reporters ahead of this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, Ricciardo confirmed his management had been exploring options, but confessed he would happily take on a reserve driver role next year as a back-up plan.

Accepting a reserve driver position may seem unusual for someone of Ricciardo’s calibre, but doing so would make him a leading candidate for vacancies in 2024.

“My team is talking to pretty much everyone and they are having conversations, so we are just trying to put it all together and figure out what makes the most sense,” he said on Thursday.

“So it‘s not that they’re not interested, and while I’m not coming from a place of over confidence, we are just doing our due diligence and figuring out what’s best.

“Trying to see beyond next year, because for me I want be racing but also don‘t want to be just looking at the next 12 months and not the next 24.

“I‘m still keen to be part of F1. Of course, Plan A would to be on the grid, so nothing’s changed, but I don’t want to just jump at the first seat available. I know the landscape has probably changed as well at the end of next year with contracts or whatever, so I’m remaining open.

“I know that if I choose to take a reserve role or not race next year, nothing‘s guaranteed. So that comes at a risk, but that’s what we are weighing up. At this stage, especially with a top team, there are no guarantees.”

Ricciardo spent two seasons with Alpine — previously known as Renault — in 2019 and 2020, but the Australian’s decision to jump ship and sign for McLaren did not sit well with the Renault hierarchy, particularly former boss Cyril Abiteboul.

Abiteboul has since left the team, but executive-level management at the French team is understood to be unwilling to rekindle a relationship with him due to lingering bad blood.

Ricciardo confessed that signing for Haas or Williams, who are currently seventh and 10th on the constructors’ championship respectively, were his only “realistic options” for finding a spot on the F1 grid in 2023.

“I know, having been through the last few years, there’s something (about) — obviously Monza last year was the best-case scenario — fighting for a win,” he explained.

“What fighting at the front does — when you‘ve had that taste, it’s real. That’s ultimately where I want to be.

“I guess I don‘t want to just race to race. I want to race with a true belief and understanding that I could be back on the podium.”

Ricciardo said the two-week break after the Italian Grand Prix, where he suffered an engine malfunction during the closing stages of the race, helped re-energise him and clear his mind as the end of the season approaches.

“After Monza we did a bit of sim and some factory stuff but then I got to get home, and it was kind of just nice being around family and switching off and spending some time at the farm and even just doing fun things — riding bikes and just being a bit of a kid again,” he said.

“That sort of stuff‘s cool, but even getting back in the paddock today, I saw Tom (Stallard), my engineer and I felt like I hadn’t seen for a while. I kind of missed him!

“A little bit of time away is powerful. It reminds you how much you miss it.

“If I’m not to be racing, then I feel like there could be a blessing in all that. It could like make me freaking stat foaming at the mouth wanting to get back.

“That’s why I‘m pumped to be on the grid again, but I’m also seeing positives if that’s not the case.

“That‘s why I’m at peace with whatever’s going to happen in 23, because I feel like everything’s going to happen for a reason. All these things will make sense.”

The Singapore Grand Prix is scheduled to get underway on Sunday evening, with lights out scheduled for 11pm AEST.

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