Daniel Ricciardo: What Does 2023 Hold?

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - OCTOBER 28: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and McLaren greets fans prior to practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 28, 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

With three rounds to go in the 2022 campaign, Daniel Ricciardo looks to be off the Formula One grid for 2023. What does his future hold?

This is it. Crunch-time. Three rounds remain in Formula One’s 73rd campaign. Congratulations to Max Verstappen on capturing his second consecutive World Driver’s Championship. Controversies aside, congratulations are also in order for Oracle Red Bull Racing on capturing their 5th World Constructor’s Championship and first since 2013.

The future could not be brighter for the planet’s pinnacle competition of automobile racing. As the league looks ahead to next season some teams are poised to make statements at the Bahrain Grand Prix. From the debut of newly constructed cars to anticipated rookie debuts and drivers switching teams. 20 drivers from 13 different nations traveling to 24 different venues around the world.

But there is a strong possibility that a prominent figure will be missing from the 2023 grid. A competitor who, when provided with competitive equipment, has proven his worthiness at the top. The driver from Perth, Western Australia. Mr. Daniel Ricciardo.

History Lesson

Over the past 11 years, the Honey Badger has become one of the most popular drivers on the F1 grid. After earning his Super License, he became a test driver for the team now known as Scuderia AlphaTauri. He was then farmed out to HRT where he made his official debut at the 2011 British Grand Prix.

He made his full-time debut the following season, running two seasons with Scuderia Toro Rosso. Ricciardo then replaced fellow countryman Mark Webber at Red Bull Racing. Since that time, the Australian has captured eight victories, 32 podiums, three pole positions, and 16 fastest laps. Even with a dip last year, his average finish in the Drivers’ Championship is 5.8. Despite his impressive resume, McLaren opted to buy out the remaining year of their contract with Riccardo.

Saying in a video posted to his social media platforms:

“I think for the future, what lies ahead, I am not sure yet. I am not sure yet. But we’ll see. I look back on this time with McLaren, I look back with a smile. I learned a lot about myself, I think things that will help me for the next step in my career, but I think just in general in life.”

Where does the Australian’s future go from here?

Why Didn’t He Call MoneyGram Haas?

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After speaking to Jenna Fryer at the Associated Press, MoneyGram Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner said:

“If he’s interested in us, he’s not shy to call me up. I’m not going to chase him down. I want (Riccardo) to decide what he wants to do for himself, first, before being talked into something. I think he’s a good driver and I don’t know how he got in the situation he’s in now, but I think he needs to come clean with himself and decide what he’s going to do. For (MoneyGram Haas), he would be a big hit…He was a race winner just last year. I rate him as a driver, I have no idea why he doesn’t perform right now. That is for him to figure out.”

It was the equivalence of a gift. An ideal situation. Even if it is only for one season, not only would it keep the Honey Badger on the Formula One grid, but it would provide a veteran’s edge as they prepare their VF-23.

Currently, 8th in the Constructor’s Championship, the potential dynamic between Haas, Riccardo, Magnussen, and Steiner could provide a formula for success to help lift the team to its highest Constructor’s Championship placement since 2018, if not higher.

On paper, it appears to be a victory for both parties. Yet the Honey Badger announced after qualifying at the Japanese Grand Prix, that he would not be on the grid for the 2023 campaign. It’s surprising, yet if a break is what he needs, who are we to stand in his way?

Television Personality?

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Talking to Motorsport.com, Ricciardo said that he would like to maintain a presence within Formula One, even if he is not on the grid. If the Honey Badger is not offered a reserve driver role for 2023, could the TV role potentially be in the cards?

With the rise in popularity of Formula One in the United States, the Walt Disney Company announced a continuation of its coverage of Formula One across the ESPN family of networks. Beginning in 2023 16 events will be televised either on ESPN or ABC. It will be the most since ESPN returned to televising F1 coverage. As a result, could the conglomerate look to bring aboard a Formula One analyst in the vein of what Barry Melrose is to NHL highlights, Jessica Mendoza is for ESPN’s coverage of baseball, Ricky Craven was he worked as a NASCAR analyst, etc.?

With his stature and likable personality, the Honey Badger would be a welcomed and popular face within the city of Bristol. A positive boost in morale, his analytics, and insights into the world of Formula One during coverage on SportsCenter could provide a sense of realization to the general viewer.

Conclusion

Whatever Ricciardo decides to do for 2023, at 33, one would look at his statistics and believe that the best is yet to come. Some of the best to ever compete in Formula One, from Alain Prost to Fernando Alonso, have shown that sabbaticals can showcase achievable results combined with competitive equipment.

When the checkered flag falls next season at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the F1 world will hope that it has not seen the last of one of its most popular drivers. Whatever Ricciardo’s future holds, whether as a reserve driver or a television personality, the positive demeanor he brings will help make that environment a better place.

Featured Image Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images