Australian GP key to Ricciardo F1 future

Daniel Ricciardo believes the Australian GP will be key in deciding his F1 future

Daniel Ricciardo believes the Australian GP will be key in deciding his F1 future

Daniel Ricciardo has declared this year’s Australian GP crucial in assessing his F1 future.

The March 30-April 2 event will be Ricciardo’s first in his new role as Red Bull’s Third Driver after he elected to step back from a race drive in 2023.

The 33-year-old was part of the recent team launch in New York, and had an appearance on the ‘Late Show with Stephen Colbert’ in his new role.

As preparations for the new season ramp up, Ricciardo will be in action in the simulator at Milton Keynes, and later in the year could take the wheel as part of the Pirelli tyre test.

Ricciardo is also set to take part in demonstration events for Red Bull, notably one in Tennessee.

It is a schedule that strikes a balance between keeping him busy and affording him time off away from the relentless pressure of Formula 1.

Melbourne vibe to stoke Ricciardo?

The Australian GP will be the first Ricciardo attends for Red Bull and he hopes that experience helps reignite the fire within ahead of a potential racing return next year.

“I’ll likely be watching the first race on television,” he admitted.

“So I think that’ll start to maybe warm up a few feelings, and then I’ll be in Melbourne.

“That’d be the first race I attend and I think that being around the whole atmosphere and the noise, the sound, the smell of it all, that’ll probably do what it does.

“Whether I’m like, yeah, stoked and excited and wanting to get back or whatever…

“I’m just kind of happy being a fan for a bit longer.

“We’ll see but I think I think Melbourne will probably tell me quite a lot.”

F1 2024 options limited

As for a racing return in 2024, there are unlikely to be few seats available.

Mercedes, hypothetically, has an opening as Lewis Hamilton is in the final year of his contract, although he seems certain to re-sign.

Ferrari has its drivers locked away, as does Red Bull, although Sergio Perez knows there is an expectation on him to perform.

A reunion at either McLaren or Alpine (nee Renault) are unlikely, leaving Alfa Romeo as the leading team with a realistic opening.

The Swiss squad is ramping up ahead of Audi formally joining Formula 1 in 2026.

Zhou Guanyu is on a one-year contract while Valtteri Bottas signed a ‘multi-year’ deal ahead of the 2022 season.

Such a move would also see him rejoin Andreas Seidl, who publicly supported the embattled Ricciardo throughout 2022, even if it was his call to finally cut ties with the Australian at McLaren.

There is, however, much water to flow under the bridge and Ricciardo’s own motivation and desire to return cannot currently be assumed.

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