What’s Next For Daniel Ricciardo?

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It’s official, Daniel Ricciardo is leaving McLaren. It hasn’t been a good time for Ricciardo at McLaren – he’s finished in the points just four times this season while his (soon-to-be former) teammate, Lando Norris, has only missed out on points three times and managed to grab a podium. Ricciardo’s future has been thrown in doubt for much of this year and while it isn’t much of a surprise for F1 fans, it is a disappointment.

Ricciardo has been bought out of his contract before its scheduled end at the end of 2023. Leaving has been described by Ricciardo as “bittersweet.”

Ricciardo said in a statement: 

“It’s been a privilege to be a part of the McLaren Racing family for the last two seasons but following several months of discussions with (team bosses) Zak (Brown) and Andreas (Seidl) we have decided to terminate my contract with the team early and agree to mutually part ways at the end of the season.”

On social media, Ricciardo added: “From a results point of view, to consistently get the results and that form that I was after, it wasn’t always there and it made some weekends tough. I felt those.”

It wasn’t all bad. Ricciardo did nab McLaren’s first win since 2012 at Monza 2021 but consistency has been the main issue.

While it may seem that harsh, a mutual agreement was required in order for Ricciardo’s contract to end prematurely. As Andreas Seidl explained

“There was a contract and it needed mutual agreement to terminate it early, but after discussion with Daniel we felt it was the right thing for both sides to split ways for next year. If you looks back at the last 18 months of our journey together, Daniel and McLaren, it’s clear we haven’t achieved the result we wanted.”

Who will replace Daniel Ricciardo? If the rumours are to be believed, it will be the young up and comer, Oscar Piastri.

Daniel Ricciardo's Options

Credit: XPB Images

One option for Ricciardo is moving to Alpine. The Australian spent two seasons with the team formerly known as Renault, but he dumped the team in favour of McLaren for the 2021 season.

This move didn’t sit well with former Renault team principal, Cyril Abiteboul. However, Abiteboul is no longer with Alpine, and this might be some good news for Ricciardo. Current Alpine boss, Otmar Szafnauer, has said that he would be willing to sign Ricciardo if the opportunity is there.

Given the Piastri fiasco that has left Alpine with egg on their face it would make sense for Alpine to pick up Ricciardo and put a positive spin on the situation.

Three other teams haven’t signed on a driver just yet for 2023: Haas, Alfa Romeo, and Williams. Each of these teams would be eager to sign Ricciardo but the driver himself might not share their enthusiasm.

Mick Schumacher hasn’t signed on with Haas for 2023 yet, but despite improvements from Haas, the car still isn’t as good as either McLaren’s or Alpine’s. Also it is unlikely that Haas can even afford Ricciardo who currently earns a $20.8 million annual salary. Schumacher is only paid just under $2 million.

Alfa Romeo seem to have a good thing going with Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu. Despite the latter not having signed on for 2023, he has been impressive in his rookie season and it seems likely that he will retain his seat for that and the sponsors he brings with him.

Williams will almost certainly replace Nicholas Latifi but Ricciardo may find this seat unfavourable considering the legendary team are currently backmarkers. Williams would be excited to bring in Ricciardo but the feeling likely wouldn’t be mutual.

Zak Brown confirmed that he had offered Ricciardo an IndyCar ride in a bid to save the team tens of millions of dollars. But that hasn’t gone to plan either.

“We spoke about (IndyCar). As Andreas said, he’s an exceptional racing driver and any team that he drives for is so privileged to have Daniel drive for them, and we do have a variety of racing activities. But, that being said, he’s very focused on Formula 1.”

So that isn’t a likely option, at least for now.

Could Ricciardo simply take a break from racing? It’s not unheard of in F1. Kimi Raikkonen took two years of before his return in 2012. Even Michael Schumacher returned after a four-year break.

However, Ricciardo is apprehensive about this option as if takes a break, it could turn into retirement if opportunities don’t appear in 2024.

What about retirement? It’s likely that Ricciardo will be doing everything in his power to prevent that.

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