Ricciardo would consider sabbatical to stay in F1

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Ricciardo would consider sabbatical to stay in F1

Formula 1

Ricciardo would consider sabbatical to stay in F1

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Daniel Ricciardo says he is open to taking a sabbatical from racing next year if it helped him secure a competitive Formula 1 seat in the future.

The Australian’s contract with McLaren has been terminated a year early, with Ricciardo leaving the team at the end of this season and yet to secure another drive. While he would command interest from a number of different racing series, Ricciardo says at the age of 33 he’s only interested in staying in F1, and could even take a year out if it helped that cause.

“I still love the sport,” Ricciardo said. “Through all of this… call it adversity, I haven’t lost that confidence in myself. For sure, we’ve had some tough weekends and you can’t help but show emotion sometimes.

“I still love it and I still want to do it competitively, I want to do it in the right place. I never said I just want to be a driver to make up the numbers — if I’m here I want to be here for a purpose. I don’t know what that means yet for the future. But of course, if it’s the right opportunity, this is where I want to be.

“If it made sense, yes (a sabbatical is an option). It’s the only racing I’m interested in — this stage of my career, F1 is what I love. It’s where I see myself if I’m doing any racing. If the stars don’t align and it doesn’t make perfect sense next year and if it means taking that time off to reset or re-evaluate, if that’s the right thing to do then I’m willing to.”

Riccardo says he is ready to tackle such a challenging time in his F1 career with positivity, as he says he has had setbacks in the past before he became a grand prix driver.

“I think picking myself up… I don’t want to say it’s easy, but it’s something I feel I’m very capable of doing. This is certainly a big moment in time for my career. Even if things aren’t highlighted, you’re always going through challenges. You always have to pick yourself up.

“I remember here (at Spa ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix) in 2008 when I was racing in the Formula Renault junior category, it was the Saturday before the race on Sunday and I got a real pep talk. I was in one of those moments in my career at the time, and I still hadn’t yet made it — I knew I had to pull my head in and start making it happen.

“You always go through these (moments) — no one has a perfect career. I think I’ve learned to deal with it over time. This is another challenge, another hurdle, but I simply see it as if I want to pick myself up I will. That fire, that belief is still in me, so it’s really just a choice. If I want to make that choice I can. Obviously I don’t have every option on the grid or anything — it’s not like I can race wherever I want — but in terms of just from a self-worth point of view, absolutely.

“It’s a decision they’ve made but it doesn’t change how I’m going to go racing. I only know how to race one way. I went in to see the team — I had simulator during the week so I saw a few engineers but I hadn’t seen the wider team — and I saw the mechanics this morning. There was a lot of hugs. A lot of people want me to do well and are going to support me to the end.

“I owe it to myself and to the ones who support and want me to do well. There’s no better feeling than success in this sport and being up on the podium, so I know if I apply myself we find a way to do it in the last nine races.”

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