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Formula 1

Why Ricciardo’s willing to risk the end of his F1 career

by Matt Beer, Scott Mitchell-Malm
3 min read

The 2023 Formula 1 driver line-up is not yet complete, but Daniel Ricciardo knows he won’t be part of it.

There was no certainty of the soon-to-be-ex-McLaren driver getting either of the still-available seats at Haas or Williams and he’s effectively now ruled himself out of them and declared his focus is on trying to make a comeback in 2024.

In Scott Mitchell-Malm’s recent exclusive interview with him for The Race, Ricciardo went into detail about his thought process over those last 2023 possibilities and why he feels comfortable avoiding them even if it increases the chance that his F1 career is over after 2022.

“That’s where it’s a personal feeling. It’s always not as simple as it looks from the outside,” Ricciardo told The Race in reference to the possibility of taking a back-of-the-grid drive for 2023.

“And you’ve got to weigh it up. I know what it’s been like racing in the front, and then racing in the midfield and all that.

“There are two ways it can go as well. There’s the good scenario where I jump in another car, and it’s awesome. Let’s say I’m back to being me.

“But that could also be I feel awesome, but I’m fighting for P16 and 17. And everyone knows when you’re at the back, you can be doing such a kick-ass job. But if you’re still getting P16, there’s still just a lot of risk with that.

“And also… I’ve been doing it for long enough, I’m like, ‘I don’t want to be fighting for that’.

“And there’s no guarantee next year what team is going to be fighting for what position, but at this point, and I know it’s a risk, I want a bit more of a sure thing.

“Otherwise, I’ve been through the grind for the last 18 months. And it’s like, I don’t want to risk just putting myself in a position where I’m going to just be at the back and be like, ‘what am I still doing here?’. I don’t want to resent the sport in a way. I kind of love it too much.”

One element Ricciardo is sure of is that he won’t decide during a year out that he doesn’t actually want or need to go back to F1 in 2024 after all.

He believes it will be a repeat of how he felt during the COVID pause at the start of 2020 and he’ll be desperate to return – though equally he’s at peace with the idea that there just might not be a seat for him then.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Japanese Grand Prix Race Day Suzuka, Japan

“Maybe I take a year off and I’m like, ‘oh, you know what? I actually don’t want to return’,” Ricciardo admitted. “Then OK, cool, I’ve got my answer.

“But ultimately, I think if I was to take the next year off, where I have a bit of confidence of the scenario is COVID.

“I spent three months on the farm in Australia, and I was just so driven and hungry and I just couldn’t wait to get back to racing.

“It’s like when you love something and it’s like with a partner as well, it’s absence makes the heart grow fonder. It’s the same thing.

“So that’s where I’m just like, ‘maybe this is all part of the story where it’s like, I come back, and I come back with a vengeance’.

“And if not, then so be it.

“But that’s the part of me where I’m a little bit at ease.”

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