F1 2022: Daniel Ricciardo’s agent spills on bombshell after 2023 grid statement

Daniel Ricciardo’s manager says the Australian has been “dealt a bad hand” after he announced on Saturday night that he will not drive in Formula 1 next year.

In the biggest gamble of his career, the 33-year-old has ruled himself out of the only two driver seats still available in 2023 — with uncompetitive teams Haas and Williams.

Earlier this year, McLaren axed Ricciardo with 12 months remaining on his contract, replacing him with young compatriot Oscar Piastri, who will partner with British driver Lando Norris at the Woking-based team in 2023.

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It prompted months of speculation about Ricciardo’s next move, with growing speculation he will join Mercedes as a reserve driver.

But after Alpine confirmed they had signed French driver Pierre Gasly and Alpha Tauri announced they had secured the signature of Dutchman Nyck de Vries, the only attractable options had run out.

“I think the reality is now I won‘t be on the grid in 2023,” he told reporters after the qualifying session at the Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday.

“I think it’s now just trying to set up for 2024.

“I think that there could be some better opportunities then, so that‘s really what all this confirms and now where the sights are set.

“To be honest, the Gasly news I was aware of. I knew they were they were talking for a while and I knew though they were very interested in Pierre.

“Let‘s say I was prepared for that and (it was) no surprise, so we were trying to navigate our way around that and figure out what was next.”

His manager Nick Thimm spilled on the situation when taking to Twitter on Sunday morning, insisting this is not the end of Ricciardo’s career.

“None of this is about ego, unachievable demands, or a sudden lack of opportunity,” he posted.

“This is about a man who was dealt a bad hand, now finding the right next opportunity. Uncovering a new project where he can work with a team that embraces his unique set of skills.

“A project where his experience can be applied. A process where he can reset and show his love for the game. And ultimately put himself in the best position to show the world what he’s capable of should he be given the chance. It’s a different approach yes, but it’s also a new day for the sport.

“Daniel’s maturity and experience is a matched by few on the grid; now more than ever. The honey badger will still be as close to the F1 grid as he can in 2023. He’s not done. And as we saw this season, anything can happen.

Ricciardo earlier all but ruled out the possibility of driving in another series,

“Certainly the plan is still to be involved in F1,” he said.

“It‘s kind of like just hitting pause for a little bit, as I see it.

“As far as my F1 career goes, the full intention is for 2024.

“Sure, it could open up opportunities to maybe do some of that stuff (in other categories), but I if I feel it‘s going to deviate away from my target, then I will still say it’s not really where I’m looking.

“As fun or cool as it sounds to compete in something else, the truth is mentally I‘m not there yet.

“I‘m still so, so engaged in this, and I think a bit of time off out of a seat will probably do me good.

“I would probably use that as opposed to trying to jump in something else and stay busy in a different category.

“I’d say pretty convincingly say it wouldn’t happen anywhere else.”

Ricciardo hits pause on his career as the most experienced Australian F1 driver in history, registering 227 starts.

He has claimed eight grand prix victories, 32 podiums and three pole positions since making his F1 debut in 2011, making him the 39th mist successful driver in history.

There was mixed reaction to the news with suggestions Ricciardo’s stocks in the sport have “plummeted”.

Ricciardo was first linked with Mercedes last month, with negotiations between the powerhouse team and Aussie driver reaching “an advanced stage” this week.

But former world champion Jenson Button warned against joining Toto Wolff’s team as their reserve driver.

“Being a third driver for someone of his calibre, it’s a very, very strange situation he’s found himself in,” he told Sky Sports at the Japanese Grand Prix.

“I don’t know what he would get out of being a third driver. He’s not a young driver, so he can’t drive the car next year in race weekends (free practice), it has to be a young driver. So he wouldn’t really get anything out of it.

“I guess he’ll probably think ‘well, Lewis might retire and then I’ll jump in his seat’, but Lewis says he’s going to be around for five years.

“So he would be waiting a long time.

“So it needs to be the team where he thinks he can get a seat for 2024, otherwise it’s game over because you get forgotten after a year in F1.”

According to Autosport.com, Ricciardo does not plan to accept a reserve driver role despite the two parties having talks.

Ricciardo missed out on Q3 at the Japanese Grand Prix by 0.003 seconds on Saturday afternoon, knocked out in Q2 by the barest of margins after finishing narrowly behind four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.

He will therefore start Sunday’s race at Suzuka Circuit at 11th on the grid, one spot behind Norris, who later placed 10th in Q3.

Red Bull champion Max Verstappen secured pole position, narrowly bettering Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in Q3.

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