Daniel Ricciardo continues to weigh up his F1 options in the wake of his departure from McLaren, but the 33-year-old Australian has revealed what he considers an 'ideal' outcome.
A difficult two years at McLaren ultimately led the team to part ways with Ricciardo a year sooner than expected, with fellow Australian driver Oscar Piastri signed up for 2023.
There's no hard feelings between the two Aussie drivers as Ricciardo has wished Piastri the best in his F1 debut next year, with Ricciardo more focused on where he'll be racing.
Open seats in competitive teams are hard to come by in F1, with leading teams Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes all with drivers under contract.
Alpine, who Piastri turned his back on in favour of McLaren, has an open seat and could welcome Ricciardo back into the fold given he raced for the team under its former guise as Renault in 2019 and 2020, however that looms as an unlikely outcome.
Backmarker teams Williams and Haas have open seats for 2023, with Haas team principal Guether Steiner recently encouraging Ricciardo to pick up the phone, however the 33-year-old has indicated he still has the ambition to compete for wins and podiums - a long-shot prospect for either team.
With his options seemingly dwindling, Ricciardo has admitted a reserve driver role in 2023 is looking to be the more 'realistic' option.
“In the ideal world, [that’s the plan], but I know that if I choose to take a reserve role or not race next year, nothing‘s guaranteed,” he said.
“So that comes at a risk, but that’s what we’re weighing up.
“At this stage I think especially with a top team there are no guarantees.
“Of course plan A would be to be on the grid, so nothing’s changed, but … I know the landscape probably changes as well at the end of next year with contracts and whatever.
“I‘m just still discussing — I don’t want to say remaining patient but just say remaining open.”
Ricciardo has also been linked with reserve roles at F1 heavyweights Red Bull and Mercedes, and recently said his desire to "get back to winning" will be a key consideration when he makes a decision on his future.
Ricciardo refreshed ahead of Singapore Grand Prix return
Amid a difficult tenure at McLaren, highlighted by his stunning victory at the 2021 Italian GP, Ricciardo has been working hard to unlock his best behind the wheel of the MCL36.
McLaren's higher ups have lauded Ricciardo's professionalism in trying everything he can to close the gap to teammate Lando Norris, and the 33-year-old is hoping a rare trip back home ahead of F1's return to Singapore this weekend will give him an opportunity to reset.
“After Monza we did a bit of sim and some factory stuff but then I got to get home, and it was kind of just nice being around family and switching off and spending some time at the farm and even just doing fun things — riding bikes and just being a bit of a kid again,” he said.
“That sort of stuff‘s cool, but even getting back in the paddock today, I saw Tom [Stallard], my engineer and I felt like I hadn’t seen for a while. I kind of missed him!
“A little bit of time away is powerful. It reminds you how much you miss it.
“If I’m not to be racing, then I feel like there could be a blessing in all that. It could like make me freaking stat foaming at the mouth wanting to get back.
“That’s why I‘m pumped to be on the grid again, but I’m also seeing positives if that’s not the case.
“That‘s why I’m at peace with whatever’s going to happen in 23, because I feel like everything’s going to happen for a reason. All these things will make sense.”
Speaking ahead of Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix, Ricciardo said his preference remained a permanent spot on the grid, but refused to rule out taking a back-up role.
"Let's say my head space is in the same space," he said on Thursday. "I'm still keen to be part of F1 and, of course, plan A would be to be on the grid.
"So nothing's changed but I don't want to just jump at the first kind of seat available."
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.