With Daniel Ricciardo's options in Formula One seemingly dwindling, many fans have wondered why he doesn't take his talents to another series.
Intent on securing a reserve driver role next season, likely with Mercedes or Red Bull, Ricciardo is determined to prove he's not finished in F1 despite his reputation taking a serious hit during his two-year stint with McLaren.
Ricciardo has seemingly turned down chances to join Williams or Haas next season, despite the overtures of Haas team principal Guenther Steiner, as he looks to rejoin the grid in 2024 behind the wheel of potentially race-winning machinery.
As the wait goes on for news about Ricciardo's future, many fans have wondered why Ricciardo doesn't follow the lead of former F1 drivers Romain Grosjean and Marcus Ericsson and ply his trade in the US-based Indycar series.
Widely regarded as one of the top open-wheel racing series in the world, Ricciardo would be a lucrative target for Indycar teams thanks to his massive popularity in America.
Unfortunately for fans of the series, Ricciardo has ruled out any such move, but not because of his commitment to F1.
“Ovals scare me,” Ricciardo admitted to The Race.
“My Formula 1 career-slash-ambition is not over, so that’s really first and foremost.
“I don’t want to deviate, I would say primarily for that reason. But also, ovals: no.
“Ten years ago I would have said yes, but I’m OK to admit that I’m not OK with ovals.”
Indycar already has a strong Australian presence thanks to Will Power, while former Supercars champion and New Zealand native Scott McLaughlin has also made a splash since joining the series in 2021.
I still don't understand why IndyCar drivers and fans are upset at Ricciardo for saying he's afraid of racing on ovals. Why is this so insulting to them?
Calling him immature for not wanting to drive in a format that he's fearful of is a really weird take. Strange hill to die on
— CC F1 (@CCF1Channel) October 24, 2022
I'm a massive IndyCar fan.
But, you know what? It's up to Ricciardo what risks he's happy to take. It's his body, his health, his life.
And YOU have NO right to criticise him for that.
— 0ld Autosport - Damien (@Autosport_Old) October 23, 2022
It would be awesome to see Ricciardo in Indycar. But I understand his reservations about oval racing. He’s also used to the F1 way of life and Indycar is a completely different world. With open paddocks, he’d get absolutely mobbed everyone. What Grosjean experiences but worse. https://t.co/m6Vea17s95
— Mark Urban (@murbanvideo) October 23, 2022
Despite his commitment to getting back on the F1 grid, Ricciardo admitted there was a 'romanticising part of it' in considering Indycar, but concluded such a move was just 'a fantasy'.
There would potentially have been pathways to do so through McLaren, who have a stake in the Arrow McLaren SP team.
Ricciardo at centre of huge backflip over plans for 2023
It was reported during the United States Grand Prix weekend that Ricciardo would be joining Red Bull as a reserve driver next season.
That report has been retracted somewhat by Sky Sports F1 journalist Ted Kravitz, who backflipped on his initial report to conclude Mercedes remained in the running to secure the Australian's services next season.
Red Bull and Mercedes are the only two teams who bring a dedicated reserve driver to every grand prix weekend, with other drivers often loaned between teams in the unlikely event of a reserve being required.
Kravitz said he had initially thought Red Bull had the upper hand in negotiations.
“You know I said he seems to be closing in on a reserve driver job with one of the two big teams? I thought it was more likely to be Red Bull than Mercedes,” he said.
“Can I reverse that? Edit that? It’s more likely to be Mercedes than Red Bull.
“Danny Ricc in a Mercedes outfit! I’ve seen stranger in Formula 1.”
Ricciardo had dismissed the reports of him joining Red Bull as 'just rumours' after qualifying last weekend, and it remains to be seen where he will actually end up in 2023.
He did confirm to motorsport.com that he was 'talking' to teams, but added 'here’s no pen on paper or anything like that yet'.
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