F1: Daniel Ricciardo says a break from F1 can be blessing in disguise

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McLaren F1 Team’s Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo gestures before a press conference at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City on October 27, 2022, ahead of the Formula One Mexico Grand Prix. (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA / AFP)

Daniel Ricciardo said he was talking to Formula One teams about a reserve role next year and that taking a break from racing could prove to be “a blessing in disguise.”

The Australian finished seventh for McLaren in Sunday’s Mexico City Grand Prix and was voted ‘Driver of the Day’ by fans after providing much of the entertainment with a series of overtakes following a 10-seconds penalty.

The 33-year-old leaves McLaren at the end of the year with nothing lined up so far and no interest in the only seat remaining at lowly Haas.

“I can confidently say I won’t be on the grid, behind a wheel (in 2023),” Ricciardo told Sky Sports television.

“But I still want to be in the sport, I want to be working with a team still with the ambition to be back on the grid in ’24.

“I feel like a bit of time away from a race seat will actually do me good, and then try to rebuild on something for ’24.”

The winner of eight races, all but one with Red Bull, Ricciardo has struggled to match teammate Lando Norris this year and Sunday was a rare occasion where he beat the Briton, who finished ninth.

Ricciardo said the last two years had been “quite hard” and stepping away would offer a fresh perspective.

“The way the seasons are it’s pretty relentless, you don’t really get a chance to rebuild,” he said.

“Everyone’s different but I truly believe that will be, let’s say, in a way a blessing in disguise for me … by doing less, I’ll achieve more.”

Ricciardo has been linked to reserve roles with Red Bull and Mercedes, whose boss Toto Wolff would welcome him in the role vacated by AlphaTauri-bound Dutchman Nyck de Vries.

“We very much like him, he’s a great character but we are not in a position yet to decide who is going to do reserve and third driver,” the Austrian told reporters.

Wolff was recently photographed wearing a sweatshirt from Ricciardo’s merchandise collection, further fuelling speculation.

“It’s good stuff, simple as that,” grinned Ricciardo. “I gave (Mercedes driver) George (Russell) a sweater and Toto messaged saying he really liked it … so, freebies.”

Russell said he would like to see Ricciardo join him and seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton but “it’s up to Daniel to see what he wants to do with his future.”

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