McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo said after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that he was “highly likely” to join Red Bull next season as a reserve driver.
The 33-year-old Australian is out of contract after finishing the season with the British team who cancelled his deal a year ahead of time.
McLaren replaced him with fellow Australian Oscar Piastri from French side Alpine, a move that kicked off a merry-go-round of moves between sides.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Verstappen aiming for F1 title hat-trick - 'Really good motivation'
20/11/2022 AT 18:23
Ricciardo said in the wake of his deal being terminated that he hoped to stay in the sport but made it clear he would prefer to take a job as part of a top team rather than race for a mid-table side full time.
It was rumoured last week that he might join Mercedes as a reserve driver, but Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko and then the Austrian teams’ principal Christian Horner said they were looking to bring Ricciardo back to the team that he first joined in 2014.
Speaking after the race in which he finished ninth after a late challenge from the retiring Sebastian Vettel of Aston Martin, he explained that his time at McLaren had been defined by inconsistency.
"There were certainly some races where I felt more comfortable,” he told Sky Sports.
“The difficulty, the struggle was that that encouraged me and then all of a sudden, a week later, we were back where we were. The inconsistency, the unknown, was what made it so tricky but I am happy to have had a few nice [races] since the summer break.
"I have learnt perspective. It is so easy to get caught up in competition. We devote so much time to it and when it is not going well you can so easily get angry, frustrated and bitter. Get so many negative emotions towards something you truly love.
"Perspective allowed me to maintain happiness and appreciation. You have your days but it is a privilege to do what we love – it is such a fun sport. The surroundings, the travel, all the people we meet. Whatever you do in life, gratitude helps you move forward a lot.”
He then confirmed that he believes he will be at Red Bull for 2023 but matching Horner, acknowledged the deal was not yet complete.
"Red Bull is the highly likely place for me. I can’t say 100 percent until things are signed off but that is certainly what is closest now. If it is, I am not going to be at 24 races as I might as well still be on the grid. I made it clear I still need some time off for myself and to get away as little bit but I will be around to some extent and try to stay involved."
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Wolff disconsolate again as Hamilton retires in Abu Dhabi - 'It's raw, it's bad'
20/11/2022 AT 16:37
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Leclerc basks in 'perfect race' after securing second in championship
20/11/2022 AT 15:49