On Wednesday, Daniel Ricciardo confirmed his McLaren exit making him a free agent for 2023. So what are the options for the Australian – both realistic and unlikely?
Through an emotional video on Instagram, Daniel Ricciardo bid farewell to McLaren. He announced that he won’t be driving for McLaren after 2022. McLaren also thanked Daniel Ricciardo for his time with the team, specially mentioning the 2021 win at Monza.
Ricciardo clarified that, he was not going to step down from F1 and has full intentions to continue in the sport. He believes he still has it in him and can compete in the front.
“I still have that fire in me, that belief I can do it at the highest level. This isn’t it for me.”
Nevertheless, to finish you need to start. And to compete you first need a seat. So, what are the probable options for Daniel Ricciardo after his McLaren exit? Where can the 33-year old go for his next adventure?
Let’s take a look:
Ricciardo Back to Renault/Alpine?
If Ricciardo lost a seat amidst the Alpine-Piastri-McLaren drama, Alpine also lost a talented driver they were grooming for years. Alpine needs an experienced driver to replace leaving Alonso and Ricciardo needs a seat.
Alpine and McLaren are somewhat equal pegged at the moment. Both are strong in midfield and are fighting for P4 in constructors since the start of this season. Alpine would be a perfect team for Ricciardo to go to.
But, for that Alpine needs to make it head clear along with Ricciardo. Alpine is still fighting for Piastri, who seems to have two legal contracts, and believes that they deserve the 21-year old’s services for the 2023 season. They are most certainly going to take the case to court.
On the other hand, would Ricciardo go back to a team he left a couple of years ago claiming that, the team wasn’t heading in the right direction.
But if the case ends in favor of Piastri then, Ricciardo might be the best option out there for Alpine F1.
Haas or Alfa Romeo an option?
Reports suggest that, Haas has already contacted Daniel Riccirado for a possible drive in 2023. Furthermore, Haas could be a team that might help Ricciardo gain back his confidence.
Moreover, Haas is looking for a high-profile experienced driver ever-since its F1 debut in 2016. Ricciardo fits the criteria perfectly.
Mick Schumacher’s future at Haas is uncertain with rumors claiming that he might not be getting a contract extension for the next season. So, Haas could definitely have a vacant seat for next season alongside Kevin Magnussen.
But, there is a major problem in signing Ricciardo for 2023 by Haas.
Firstly, Ricciardo would be going for a team much less competitive than his current team and above mentioned Alpine option.
Moreover, Haas has always struggled with Financial Budget problems and signing a driver like Ricciardo would ask a lot of money.
Reports suggest that, Ricciardo is the fifth highest paid driver on the grid at the moment. On the other hand, Haas is paying Mick Schumacher a little less than 1 million Euros. So, signing Ricciardo would mean a heavy cost on their pocket.
So, Alfa Romeo can be an option?
Although there are no indications about any deal or exchange of messages between Alfa Romeo and Ricciardo, but the team is the best option for Ricciardo after Alpine.
Joining Alfa Romeo would also provide long-term benefits. As, Audi is taking over Alfa Romeo in 2026, Ricciardo might thrive in the new regulations.
But, Alfa Romeo might not even consider Daniel Ricciardo option following his McLaren exit.
Alfa Romeo already has an experienced driver in Valtteri Bottas driving for them. So, the team might not consider signing another experienced and high-profile driver and paying him too.
Furthermore, Zhou Guanyu is having a decent run in his rookie season. The team have not yet extended his contract though. But, extension news might be announced soon enough.
Williams – Daniel Ricciardo’ future in blue?
A swap to Williams would not be the most ideal move for Ricciardo. Joining the team would be a big backward step for the Australian. The team is currently far behind the aforementioned options for Ricciardo.
Williams was taken over by US based Dorilton Capital in 2020. The owners would be looking at the availability of Ricciardo.
The team has not signed any major driver in recent years and Ricciardo is definitely popular back in US. The team also has seemingly high-enough budget for the 33-year old.
With Latifi set to depart from the team, the seat is vacant at Williams. The seat was earlier going to be filled by Oscar Piastri before the drama began following Alonso’s sudden move to Aston Martin.
Williams is having another disappointing run with no specific hopes for improvement the following year. Coming from a strong team in midfield, Ricciardo would not want to end up at a backmarker. This would certainly not help in his comeback he is aiming for.
Also, Williams has not shown some specific interest in Australian yet.
Retirement or a shot at another form of Motorsports?
Ricciardo, aged just 33 has still got plenty in tank and a lot to offer to motorsports and particularly F1. The 8-time race winner has also made it clear that he has no intentions of retiring from the pinnacle of motorsports yet.
“This sport, I still love it,” Ricciardo said in the mentioned Instagram video.
But, what if Ricciardo is unable to land a seat for the 2023 season? The options are limited for Ricciardo, with Alpha Tauri the only other team that might have a vacant seat for next year other than the aforementioned teams.
So, how about options out of Formula 1 itself. Ricciardo is popular in US, so IndyCar could be an option for the Australian. Similarly, opportunities at Formula E are also there for him.
McLaren, has a team in all three sports, F1, IndyCar and Formula E. McLaren chief Zak Brown has said that, he wants the Australian to stay in F1 for the next season.
“He’s an exceptional racing driver, and any team that he drives for, it’s a privilege to have Daniel drive for you,” said Brown.
So, where can Ricciardo possibly go? Will Piastri really drive for McLaren? Will Riccirado be able to make a comeback next season?
We will know the answers in next season only.
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