Skip to content

Daniel Ricciardo open to Alpine return in 2023 and F1 sabbatical after McLaren snub

Daniel Ricciardo will be leaving McLaren at the end of the season but there are limited competitive options available on the grid; Ricciardo tells Sky Sports F1 in exclusive interview he would be open to return to Renault family with Alpine

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Daniel Ricciardo sits down with Rachael Brookes to discuss his exit from McLaren.

Daniel Ricciardo has revealed he would be open to a return to Alpine next season if they can provide a "competitive" car, admitting he is willing to take a year away from the sport if a 2023 move "doesn't make sense".

Ricciardo is suddenly a high-profile free agent on the driver market after Wednesday's announcement McLaren will be terminating his three-year contract a year early after persistent struggles in the car.

There are currently five other seats available on the 2023 grid although all of which are in the midfield, with Alpine in a contractual tug-of-war with McLaren over Oscar Piastri, while Alfa Romeo, Haas, AlphaTauri and Williams have openings further down the field.

In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports F1 ahead of the Belgian GP, Ricciardo said he wants to remain in F1 "a lot - but under the right circumstances" as he stressed his desire for a competitive seat.

"I want to get back to winning, I want to get back to fighting for podiums and wins, said Ricciardo, an eight-time race winner. "That's what gives me the most happiness.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Daniel Ricciardo says he is proud of the way he tried to make things work at McLaren and admitted he would like to remain in Formula 1

"One thing that has remained unchanged for me is I've never wanted to be a driver just to be on the grid.

"Of course I love this sport and I love everything that comes with it. But at this point in my career i's just about winning.

Also See:

"Under the right circumstances, the right opportunity, absolutely it's where I want to be but obviously I might not have every option available."

Ricciardo's most competitive option may be at Alpine, the new guise of the Renault team the Australian upset by leaving in 2020 for archrivals McLaren.

Alpine risk losing Piastri to McLaren amid a contractual dispute and so may have a seat open for 2023.

Asked if he would be open to a return, Ricciardo told Sky F1's Rachel Brookes: "Yes. I don't know how else to say that. I'd say, if it's right."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Lando Norris says he learnt a lot from Daniel Ricciardo and has a lot of respect for him and is not fussed on who his new teammate will be as long he can enjoy spending time with them.

Questioned on if he left on good terms two years ago, the 33-year-old added: "I think how it ended, yes.

"Obviously it was tough because we made the announcement [joining McLaren[ before racing had even started in that year. It was Covid and there was a lot going on.

"For sure it was a little bit awkward for a bit, but once we were racing and had the year we had I think everyone saw I was dedicated to make the most of that year.

"We'll see what feels right, and is right but it's purely going to be on where I feel I an be the most competitive."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Fernando Alonso says he wasn't as supported by Alpine due to his age and is very happy to join the Aston Martin project.

Ricciardo admitted his phone had been calling "a lot" during the summer break but said: "I don't want to make rash decisions, I want to get racing then see what feels right once I get the helmet back on."

"I haven't signed anything," he continued. "At this moment, I'm a free man so to speak."

Ricciardo also explained how he was targeting a team who were competitive immediately.

"When you understand a team a little bit more and if what you see is inspiring and motivating, you can quickly change your thought process [on a long-term project].

"But I won't lie, I would like results quicker rather than later. But I am very open to what the future may hold, so I'm not going to sit here and shut anything down."

Ricciardo open to taking a year away from F1

Earlier on Thursday, Ricciardo stressed in his first media appearance since his McLaren exit was confirmed that he only wants to race "for a purpose".

"I still love the sport," said an emotional Ricciardo in Thursday's press conference. "I think through all of this adversity, I haven't lost that confidence in myself.

"I still love it and I still want to do it competitively, but I want to do it in the right place. I never said I wanted to be a driver to make up the numbers.

"If I'm here, I want to be here for a purpose."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Max Verstappen says he will never be perfectly happy despite an 80-point lead and thinks Red Bull can always be better

Ricciardo has long stressed his desire to become an F1 world champion, with all of his recent moves - from Red Bull to Renault, and Renault to McLaren - done so with that goal in mind.

He said he is only interested in racing in F1 but if the right opportunity does not present itself, he will consider a sabbatical.

"If it made sense, yes," Ricciardo said when asked about taking a year away.

"It's the only racing I'm interested in at this stage in my career. F1 is what I love and it's where I see myself, if I'm doing any racing.

"But if the stars don't align and it doesn't make perfect sense next year, and it means taking some time off to reset, I'll do it if that's the right thing to do."

Ricciardo has 'point to prove' in F1 | Piastri interest 'just business'

Ricciardo joined McLaren as a big-name signing to partner Lando Norris for 2021, but the partnership has never quite clicked into gear and Wednesday's announcement brought an inevitable end to a long-running saga.

"Sometimes things don't work out," Ricciardo, who hoped to lead McLaren back to F1 championships, told Sky F1. "Of course I'm not happy about the situation.

"I knew already after the first handful of races I wasn't getting the results I wanted and I knew the team watned more out of it. We'd already started talking after the first few races, trying to see how we could improve the situation.

It wasn't a shock call or anything.

"I was certainly doing everything I could to try and make it work. I always had that faith, belief, that I could turn it around and get back to a Monza [where he won last year] moment.

"But it was just obviously a run that was not really happening and coming together. I didn't want to walk away from this, but the team made the decision and we talked about it and I also thought maybe it was best to accept this and maybe move on. I'm a fighter, but sometimes I have to let it be.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

George Russell feels the new anti-porpoising directive won’t compromise Mercedes plus thinks Daniel Ricciardo is an exceptional driver and expects him to be back on the grid in 2023.

"I understand. I did get the win last year and get the highest of highs, but I think it was just the lack of these big results.

"I understand their need and desire was for some bigger ones more consistently. It's nothing against me personally, not my attitude or anything like that."

His exit opens the door for Piastri to join McLaren, although there is still a contractual dispute with Alpine with the French team adamant they have the right to their reserve driver's services for 2023, and Piastri's camp sure he had an option to go elsewhere.

Ricciardo said he had not spoken to either of his fellow Australians, Piastri or his manager Mark Webber, about the situation, but stressed there were no hard feelings.

"I honestly still don't know what the future holds for Oscar. But yeah... it's just business. Mark's doing his job for Oscar. I don't take any of that personal.

"Assuming Oscar is guaranteed a spot on the grid somewhere next year, I will support a fellow Aussie. I don't think there's been reason for them to reach out."

Ricciardo has nine races left at McLaren and he said his exit was a "weight off the shoulders" and leaves him with a "point to prove".

"This is another challenge, another hurdle," he said. "But I see it that if I want to pick myself up, I will. That fire is still in me. Obviously I don't have every option on the grid, but just from a self-worth point of view.

"It's a decision they've made, but it doesn't change the way I'm going to go racing."

Around Sky