Ricciardo: Signs are pointing to 2024 Formula One return

By Sports Desk March 31, 2023

Daniel Ricciardo believes he will return to the Formula One grid for the 2024 season after a year-long absence.

The Australian departed McLaren at the end of the 2022 campaign and did not take a seat on the grid for 2023, instead returning to Red Bull in a reserve driver capacity.

Just three months into his reduced role, which has allowed far more free time, Ricciardo feels he has got what he wanted out of the break and is now seeking a full-time return to F1.

While it is not yet known what opportunities may emerge next year, Ricciardo is expecting to be back

"The signs are pointing towards getting back on the grid. I feel like that's where I'm tracking in my head and a few of the habits that I'm having or doing is pointing towards that," he told reporters ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

"It's only been a few months [out of F1] but I think some itches have been scratched, so to speak. I've actually weirdly found that the days that I've had no schedule are the days when I've actually done training, and I've done things like I would before.

"So I don't know, being my own boss, writing my own schedule has actually brought out a lot of the things in me. When I thought I might just sit on the couch and watch movies all day and eat junk food, I'm just not. That's not me.

"So even these things have made me realise how much I do care about it."

However, Ricciardo will not change the stance he had ahead of the current season and will only accept a seat with a team capable of fighting at the front end of the grid.

"I still am at a point where it's not at any cost, it's not just to be back on the grid," he added.

"A lot of the reason for taking this year off was that I didn't want to just jump back into a car, any car just to be one of the F1 drivers. And I still don't see myself starting from scratch and rebuilding a career from ground zero and going at it for another decade.

"I appreciate I might not have every opportunity under the sun, but I want to win. I want to be back with a top team and obviously a team where I have my confidence back and my mojo.

"I think also that's where, maybe when I look back that's a weakness of mine, but in a way it's a strength as I feel better at the front of the grid. I feel like I perform in those situations with a bit more pressure and a bit more emphasis on a podium.

"So, to go back and try to put myself in just any seat or something that's fighting at best for a top-10 finish, I don't think that's going to bring the best out of me. So yeah, I see myself, at least in my head, wanting to go back on the grid, but there's still some terms and conditions, so to speak."

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    Lando Norris said it was “all or nothing” as he mastered a rain-hit qualifying to secure pole position for Saturday’s sprint race at the Chinese Grand Prix.

    In treacherous conditions in Shanghai, Norris tip-toed his McLaren to top spot, finishing 1.2 seconds clear of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in an all-British front row for Saturday’s 19-lap dash.

    For a moment Hamilton, who has endured his worst start ever to a season, looked to have taken a surprise pole when Norris’ best lap was chalked off for exceeding track limits at the final corner.

    But the stewards U-turned on their decision after it became evident the 23-year-old had not gained an advantage as he scrambled for grip while gearing up for his pole lap.

    Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso will line up from third for Saturday’s sprint race, one position ahead of Max Verstappen who struggled in the inclement conditions in his all-conquering Red Bull.

    “It was wild,” said Norris. “You always know it is going to be in a session like this.

    “You only have three laps. The first two I aborted so that last lap was all or nothing. I was nervous because I made a few mistakes, but you have to risk a lot and push and I was quick.

    “I got a good final lap in for pole so I am happy. I am sad it is not real qualifying, but it is good enough. It gets your heart going and it is what we wanted.”

    On Formula One’s return to China after a five-year absence, rain threatened throughout qualifying and it finally arrived for the decisive Q3 session.

    Charles Leclerc was the first to fall foul of the downpour when he lost control of his Ferrari. The Monegasque pirouetted through the gravel before hitting the wall at Turn 2 and breaking the front wing on his Ferrari. He had to settle for seventh.

    Verstappen made not one, but two uncharacteristic mistakes – driving off the road in his first attempt at pole, before later running through the sandtrap at the final corner.

    Mercedes’ wretched run had appeared set to continue here after George Russell was eliminated in 11th in the dry – but when the rain landed, Hamilton looked at home as he secured his spot on the front row.

    “I am so happy,” said the 39-year-old, who failed to finish inside the top six at any of the opening four rounds.

    “When I saw the rain coming I was getting excited because in the dry we are not quick enough. I thought I would have a better opportunity and that is when it all came alive.

    “Tomorrow depends on the conditions and if it is like that, maybe we will have a chance of being somewhere up there, but if it is dry the Ferraris and Red Bull will come by.”

    Earlier, the start of Q2 was delayed by several minutes following a second bizarre track fire of the day.

    Practice was red-flagged when a patch of grass next to Turn 7 caught fire. And in qualifying the grass was ablaze again, this time at Turn 5.

    Although both fires were quickly extinguished, the incidents – which the FIA believes were caused by sparks flying off the drivers’ cars – will be a concern for the sport’s bosses.

    Saturday’s sprint takes place at 11am local time (04:00 BST) ahead of qualifying for Sunday’s main event.

  • Lando Norris lands sprint race pole position at Chinese Grand Prix Lando Norris lands sprint race pole position at Chinese Grand Prix

    Lando Norris mastered a rain-hit qualifying to secure pole position for Saturday’s sprint race at the Chinese Grand Prix.

    In soaking conditions at the Shanghai International Circuit, Norris finished 1.2 seconds clear of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in an all-British front row for Saturday’s 19-lap dash.

    Hamilton looked to have taken top spot after Norris’ best lap was deleted by the stewards only for it then to be reinstated.

    “Simply beautiful,” said Norris after he was informed of his pole. Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso qualified third, one place ahead of triple world champion Max Verstappen, who ran off the road on numerous occasions.

    Rain threatened throughout qualifying and finally arrived for the decisive Q3 session.

    Charles Leclerc was the first to fall foul of the torrid conditions when he lost control of his Ferrari. The Monegasque pirouetted through the gravel before hitting the wall at Turn 2 and braking the front wing on his Ferrari.

    Verstappen also made an error, falling off the road in his first attempt, before then running through the sandtrap at the final corner. The driver, who has dominated Formula One, had to settle for fourth.

    Hamilton has had a season to forget – statistically, at least, the worst of his career so far. But for a moment here, he topped the time charts only to see Norris edge him out with an impressive lap.

    Norris’ time was initially chalked off for exceeding track limits but after the British driver, 23, complained he “didn’t go off anywhere”, the stewards u-turned on their decision.

    “It was tricky,” said Norris. “You always know it is going to be in a session like this.

    “You only have three laps. The first two I aborted so that last lap was all or nothing.

    “I was nervous because I made a few mistakes, but you have to risk a lot and push and I was quick.

    “I got a good final lap in for pole so I am happy, sad it is not real qualifying, but it is good enough. It gets your heart going and it is what we wanted.”

    Mercedes’ wretched run looked set to continue after George Russell was eliminated in 11th but when the rain arrived, Hamilton looked at home to secure his spot on the front row.

    Elsewhere, Carlos Sainz finished fifth for Ferrari ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez with Leclerc seventh.

    F1 is back in China following a five-year absence and home favourite Zhou Guanyu sent the home crowd happy after he qualified 10th.

    Earlier, the start of Q2 was delayed by several minutes following a second bizarre track fire of the day.

    Practice was red-flagged when a patch of grass next to Turn 7 caught fire. And there was a similar incident in qualifying, this time at Turn 5.

    Although both blazes were quickly extinguished, the incidents – which the FIA believe were caused by sparks flying off the drivers’ cars – will be a concern for the sport’s bosses.

    Saturday’s sprint takes place at 11am local time (04:00 BST) ahead of qualifying for Sunday’s main event.

  • Daniel Ricciardo admits he does not deserve his F1 seat if poor form continues Daniel Ricciardo admits he does not deserve his F1 seat if poor form continues

    Daniel Ricciardo said he has been assured by Red Bull that he is not set to lose his seat – but admitted if he continues to get his “arse whooped” he does not deserve to be in Formula One.

    Following a troubled start to his first full season back on the grid, Ricciardo, 34, arrives for this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix as a driver under pressure.

    Ricciardo was handed a reprieve by Red Bull’s junior outfit, RB, midway through last season, after he was dumped by McLaren.

    But he has failed to get up to speed in 2024, out-qualified by team-mate Yuki Tsunoda at every event, and without a point to his name.

    He also crashed out on the first lap in Japan a fortnight ago, and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner – integral in bringing him back into the fold – said here in Shanghai that Ricciardo has “under-performed” so far this season.

    It has even been suggested that a failure to turn his troubling form around could see Ricciardo replaced by Red Bull reserve driver Liam Lawson as early as the next race in Miami.

    But in an interview with the PA news agency, Ricciardo said: “Everybody in the team is shutting that down. The black and white, is that I have a contract.

    “However, I have to earn my spot. I don’t want these results to continue for a year, and for me to say: ‘well I should be here because it is on paper’. I am not going to be happy with that. At the end of the day, if I am getting my arse whooped I don’t deserve to be here.

    “I want to get back to a place where I know I can be, and I feel confident I can get there. I am aware I have to get the results. But from my side, I am not a rookie trying to prove something or to establish myself. I do have a history in this sport. I do have a track record that says I can win.

    “But if we get to December and I have not been able to extract that then maybe I will be like, ‘fine I am done with this’ or ‘I am not good enough’, but I certainly don’t feel like that in my heart.”

    Ricciardo’s stock fell after two poor years with McLaren, and his career looked over when his contract was cancelled at the end of 2022. But an upbeat Ricciardo believes his troubled spell with the British team has allowed him to remain positive amid his current disappointing run.

    “I went through this at McLaren and I bought into the noise because I ended up losing the belief,” he said. “I would question myself: ‘F***, maybe I have lost that edge? Maybe I can’t do it anymore?’

    “But now I sit here in a different place because I do feel rejuvenated. That is why it is frustrating because in my head it makes no sense.

    “If I do well here and in Miami, all of a sudden it is forgotten about. I don’t get caught up in it, but deep down, I know I have to do better.”

    Ricciardo announced at his comeback race in Hungary last year that his dream is to return to Red Bull where he raced to seven of his eight career wins between 2014 and 2018.

    But recent results have seen him looking over his shoulder, rather than as a potential replacement for Sergio Perez, who is out of contract at the end of the year, or even Max Verstappen, whose future with the all-conquering, but scandal-hit team, remains uncertain.

    “Is it still a goal (to re-join Red Bull)? said Ricciardo. “Of course. But where I sit right now, I don’t want to talk about it because I know I have to do better.

    “I am also aware that if I start talking about that, all the responses, will be like, ‘mate, focus on where you are’, which is the truth.

    “And look, can anything happen in F1? Yes. But my prediction is that Max stays (at Red Bull).”

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