Ricciardo acknowledges final 2022 races could be the last of his F1 career

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Ricciardo acknowledges final 2022 races could be the last of his F1 career

Formula 1

Ricciardo acknowledges final 2022 races could be the last of his F1 career

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Daniel Ricciardo admits that he may be entering the final two races of his Formula 1 career if a new race seat doesn’t come his way in 2024, but says a poor 2023 would have ended it anyway.

The Australian is likely to take a reserve role in F1 next season, having had his McLaren contract terminated one year early, and has opted against negotiating with Haas regarding the vacancy it has for next season. Ricciardo says whether he stayed on the grid in 2023 or not there was always a chance his career could end, and he believes giving himself time to reset and come back stronger gives him the best chance of continuing.

“I feel a bit of risk on both sides,” Ricciardo said. “But if I was to be back on the grid in 2024, this has the biggest upside in terms of I know I’ll be a better version of myself.

“I think the risk is jumping into a seat next year and it’s shown here in my time at McLaren that nothing’s guaranteed in terms of performance. So if it was, for whatever reason, to be a relatively unsuccessful campaign, I think personally I would probably be done with the sport. So that risk seems way bigger than the risk of sitting out a year.

“I’m certainly aware (an offer for 2024 might not follow), and I’m also at peace with it if that’s the case — I’m standing with my decision. Look, I don’t want this to be my last two races in F1, but if it is then I accept that could be an outcome.

“Let’s say because I’m at peace with that, I’m then betting on myself that doing what I’m doing will prepare me for the best version of myself if I do get the opportunity. I think it’s one where if I get the opportunity I don’t want to be Daniel operating at 95%, I want to be fully charged.”

Ricciardo is currently weighing up what the best balance is in terms of the demands on his time as a reserve driver, as he wants freedom to improve his physical standards and the potential to drive on occasion, but believes a break from racing will be beneficial for him.

“I am interested. It’s funny, because people might say, ‘Well if you’re interested in 2024, why aren’t you interested in next year?’ but I know the way I’ll feel having some time off and watching the races from the TV or somewhere in the paddock. It will give me all that hunger back.

“I have the hunger still, but I want it to be overflowing and I know just a bit of time off will do that, because I get it in a summer break and that’s only two or three weeks off. I really felt it in COVID when we had three months off or something, and I felt that was probably my best season since 2016 or something.

“So I know what a bit of absence does for me. I appreciate every driver’s different and they feel how they feel, but I know thing the right time off next year will make me very hungry to be back on the grid in 2024.

“That’s why I say I do want to be back in 2024, but there’s no guarantees. I can’t sign a contract today to guarantee me a seat in 2024 — no one will do that, it’s not possible. But I’ll just try to do all I can next year to show that I still have the desire and the skill to do it.”

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