Daniel Ricciardo hopes an upcoming enforced break from the Formula One grid will prove the blessing in disguise that allows him to come back in style.
The 33-year-old Australian is two races away from a season away from the race wheel, with McLaren to replace him with younger countryman Oscar Piastri in 2023.
Ricciardo pulled off several dramatic overtakes on the soft tyres to finish seventh in the Mexico Grand Prix, his third-best result for the season, despite receiving a 10-second penalty mid-race.
He will sit out driving in 2023 but plans to return in 2024. “I can confidently say I won’t be on the grid behind a wheel,” Ricciardo told Sky Sports. “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.
“That said, it’s honestly where my head’s at as well. 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. Let’s say I’m not done, but it’ll look a bit different.”
Ricciardo indicated he needed a break after a difficult season.
“No doubt the last two years have been quite hard, especially when you put a lot in and when it doesn’t come back, it can get you down,” he said. “As well, I know the value of having even like a summer break, I know stepping away just gives you a different perspective.
“The way the seasons are, it’s pretty relentless, you don’t really get a chance to rebuild. Everyone’s different but I truly believe that will be, in a way, a blessing in disguise for me. By doing less, I’ll achieve more.”
Ricciardo planned to “stay active to some degree” to remain race-fit.
“I’m certainly talking to teams but I still obviously want to keep a foot in the door for 2024,” he said. “I’m sure seeing the lights go out in race one, I’ll already have that itch, so I will want to be back in ’24.”
Ricciardo turned on the show of the day in Mexico City, including besting teammate Lando Norris, despite his 10-second penalty for causing a collision with Yuki Tsunoda.
The clash earned Ricciardo a “what the fuck is he doing” from Tsunoda, who had to retire. But being told of his time penalty didn’t dissuade the Australian.
“I didn’t respond, I was pretty dark,” the fan-voted driver of the day said. “But then I felt like I still had really good pace, so got on with it and managed to somehow make it work.”