Up till his disastrous change to McLaren resulted in him being jettisoned by the Woking staff simply two years into his three-year contract, Daniel Ricciardo had a status for being one of many brightest abilities on the Method 1 grid.
The winner of seven grands prix with Pink Bull added an eighth with an excellent, sudden victory at Monza in 2021, however that was not sufficient for him to avoid wasting his drive after he ended 2022 having been out-scored by staff mate Lando Norris by a mixed 130 factors over their two seasons collectively.
However whereas Ricciardo dropping his driver with McLaren could not have been a shock to most followers, the truth that the 33-year-old disappeared off the grid completely for 2023 was a shock to many. With no race seat accessible to him – or not less than none to his liking – Ricciardo as an alternative signed with Pink Bull to return to the staff he had left simply 4 years prior, solely this time as their third driver.
This yr, the one probability Ricciardo has of racing is that if both Max Verstappen or Sergio Perez are bodily unable to race throughout a grand prix weekend the place he’s the designated Pink Bull reserve driver for that weekend and never Liam Lawson. However in all probability, the one driving Ricciardo shall be doing with the staff this season shall be for demonstration runs of Pink Bull’s many showcars.
Regardless of this, Ricciardo stays assured that his racing profession in Method 1 isn’t over simply but. In a current interview with Pink Bull’s personal Pink Bulletin, Ricciardo mentioned attending the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne made him realise he doesn’t wish to throw within the towel on his F1 profession.
“It actually confirmed that I don’t really feel performed,” he mentioned. “In fact, I don’t have a crystal ball, and I can’t assure that I’ll be racing subsequent yr. Final yr, part of me thought, ‘oh, possibly that is it,’ however now I really feel that’s not the way it’s going to finish.”
However will Ricciardo actually be capable to discover a manner again on the grid in 2024?
Whatever the truth he’s successfully sitting out a season, Ricciardo stays one of the vital excellent candidates for drivers not on the F1 grid who could also be deserving of a spot on it. He is without doubt one of the most profitable drivers of the final decade, with eight race victories to his title, and having recurrently crushed two world champion staff mates – Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen – throughout his time alongside them at Pink Bull.
He’s additionally simply 33-years-old – simply a veteran, however far youthful than the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. Even Nico Hulkenberg, who returned to the grid this season after a number of seasons out of F1, is older than the Australian.
Ricciardo was too gradual at McLaren, however has been sturdy in all different circumstances. His expertise and former achievements make him worthy of a second probability on the grid.
With solely 20 seats in Method 1, solely the perfect drivers need to be given the possibility to fill a type of restricted positioned on the grid. F1 is neither a charity, nor a social membership – your previous success means little if all you must present out of your current seasons is being persistently out-performed by your youthful and less-experienced staff mate race after race.
For that purpose, it’s exhausting to see why a staff would select to take an opportunity on Ricciardo – particularly after a yr out of the game – within the hope that the model of him they get is the model that received seven races in a Pink Bull or introduced a number of podiums to Renault in his second season there. Particularly when there are gifted younger drivers coming by into Method 1 on an annual foundation nowadays. Ricciardo has had his probability and, like many earlier than him, it has come to an finish.
Daniel Ricciardo’s lack of velocity throughout his time at McLaren has obtained to be one of many best mysteries in F1’s current sporting historical past. There’s few different examples that come to thoughts the place a driver who was thought of a possible world champion showing to lose a lot velocity in such a brief house of time.
Haas’s Steiner approached Ricciardo in 2022It’s due to that, and the drive he had in Italy that secured him that outstanding victory in 2021, that it’s exhausting to imagine that his means has abandoned him fairly as dramatically because it appeared at occasions in 2022. And with the likes of Haas staff principal Guenther Steiner admitting he approached Ricciardo late final yr a few potential drive, it’s completely potential that he can have racing choices for 2024.
That’s, in fact, if he needs them. He has been very open about his need that, if he’s to race once more in Method 1, he’s solely a high staff – a staff that may be within the combat for podiums and even victories. However this can be very exhausting to see the place that chance will come. Mercedes and Aston Martin are extremely unlikely to choose Ricciardo to interchange any of their present drivers, whereas Pink Bull are unlikely to contemplate switching Sergio Perez for Ricciardo provided that Perez is one of the best companion to Verstappen since Ricciardo himself.
That makes a return to a staff that finishes within the backside half of the championship extra possible. Ultimately, like many drivers have earlier than, him, Ricciardo may properly discover out that his solely choice to get again right into a race seat shall be with a staff whose aspirations lie within the midfield and in race wins. Except one thing dramatic opens up on the entrance, he’s more likely to discover that shall be his solely alternative. After which we will see how excessive Ricciardo’s requirements will keep.
The place do you suppose Daniel Ricciardo shall be driving in 2024?
- Not racing in any sequence (15%)
- Racing in a sequence aside from Method 1 (28%)
- F1 – Remaning as a Pink Bull third driver (33%)
- F1 – Racing for a backside 5 staff (20%)
- F1 – Racing for a high 5 staff (4%)
Whole Voters: 46
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