Daniel Ricciardo's bombshell admission amid uncertain F1 future

Daniel Ricciardo speaks at a press conference at the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Daniel Ricciardo admits the Abu Dhabi GP could ultimately be his final appearance in Formula One. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

A looming F1 reality is staring Daniel Ricciardo in the face ahead of this weekend's season finale in Abu Dhabi - this may well be the last time he races in a grand prix.

With the 33-year-old opting against retiring or moving to another team after an uninspiring two-year stint with McLaren was mutually ended a year earlier than planned, Ricciardo is hoping a 12-month sabbatical will rejuvenate him for a return in 2024.

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The chances of such a return in the eyes of some F1 observers is slim though, with a potential F1 farewell in Abu Dhabi hardly the send-off many would have anticipated for one of the most exciting drivers of the 2010s.

Ricciardo himself seems aware that fact, but has maintained he is treating the final race of the season the same as he would any other.

Also farewelling the F1 grid for next season is four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who announced his retirement earlier in the season, and Mick Schumacher, who departs Haas after two seasons.

Williams driver Nicholas Latifi is also leaving the F1 grid after three F1 campaigns.

The future looks unclear for the eight-time race winner Ricciardo after the Yas Marina finale, as there aren't currently any spare drives available at any other team and his largely disappointing performances in 2022 have dented his once glowing reputation.

"Mentally I'm not treating it like it's going to be my last-ever race - but it could be," he said.

"I know that nothing's guaranteed in the future, so I'm going out to enjoy it, I'm not going to get too, let's say, emotional about the thought that, 'oh, is it the last one or not?'.

"I do want to enjoy it and take it for what it is."

His name has been linked with potential reserve roles at both of the sport's top two teams, Red Bull, where he made his name, and Mercedes but Ricciardo reiterated nothing had been sorted out.

"Progress is being made, we'll see," he said.

"Hopefully you can see my good looks again next year to some degree!"

Daniel Ricciardo hoping to leave McLaren on an F1 high note

Before then, he's determined to leave McLaren on a high after causing last week's collision with Haas's Kevin Magnussen at the Brazilian Grand Prix, which has cost him a three-place grid penalty for Sunday's race.

"I normally go better when I have penalties, so I actually asked for a five-place penalty, but three will do, so there you go," he laughed.

Though Ricciardo may be leaving the scene, there'll still be an Australian presence to enjoy in the shape of young star Oscar Piastri, who'll be taking his place at McLaren.

The 21-year-old from Melbourne will take another step on the road when he turns out in practice for the British team at Yas Marina on Friday.

Daniel Ricciardo laughs with George Russell and Max Verstappen at an F1 press conference.
Daniel Ricciardo is hoping this weekend's Abu Dhabi GP won't be his final appearance on the F1 grid. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

But Ricciardo will be sorely missed if he doesn't compete next year, as he's remained one of the most liked and colourful characters in the sport.

"I will miss that the most, working so closely with a guy like Daniel, a guy I've had so many laughs with and I've learned so much from at the same time," said Ricciardo's teammate Lando Norris.

"Changing teammates is not a bad thing or a nice thing, but it's always a big change.

"It's always a shame going away from someone because I feel like I always build good friendships with my teammates and good relationships," said Norris.

"But Daniel is Daniel, everyone loves Daniel.

"I will miss him as my teammate - but I won't miss him because he's going to be in the paddock next year."

With AAP

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