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Daniel Ricciardo didn’t mince words when discussing his prospects of competing in Formula One next season.

Saturday morning in Japan, Alpine and Pierre Gasly announced the Frenchman would join the team from AlphaTauri on a “multi-year” deal starting next season. AlphaTauri, then, said Nyck de Vries would fill the vacant seat, competing alongside Yuki Tsunoda in 2023. 

These latest moves in F1’s contract silly season leave two empty seats on next year’s grid: one each at Haas and Williams. Despite these openings, Ricciardo does not expect he will be competing on the 2023 grid.  

The Australian driver’s McLaren contract ended a year early after the Woking-based team brought on Oscar Piastri as his replacement. There had been rumors that maybe Ricciardo would head to Alpine and replace Fernando Alonso, who is headed to Aston Martin in 2023. 

“Yeah, to be honest, the Gasly news I was aware of, I knew they were talking for a while and I knew though they were very interested in Pierre,” he said. “Let’s say I was prepared for that and no surprise so we were trying to, let’s say, navigate our way around that and figure out what was next.

“But I think the reality is now I won’t be on the grid in 2023. I think it’s now just trying to set up for 2024. I think that there could be some better opportunities then so that’s really what all this confirms and now where the sights are set.”

While he has essentially ruled out competing as a full-time F1 driver next season, Ricciardo has previously expressed interest in a reserve role. He remains firm that his interest is in F1, not other series, during this chapter of his life. He’d even consider a sabbatical “if it made sense.” 

“It’s the only racing I’m interested in, this stage of my career, F1 is what I love,” Ricciardo said ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix in August. “It’s where I see myself if I’m doing any racing. If the stars don’t align and it doesn’t make perfect sense next year and if it means taking that time off to reset or re-evaluate, if that’s the right thing to do then I’m willing to.”

Ricciardo explained Saturday ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix that “the plan is still to be involved in F1.” While he admits it would be “cool” to compete in another series, he says “the truth is mentally, I’m not there yet.”

“This is kind of like just hitting pause for a little bit. That’s the way I see it as far as my F1 career goes. The full intention is for '24,” Ricciardo said. “Sure it could open up opportunities to maybe do some of that stuff but if I feel it’s going to deviate away from my target I would still say it’s not really where I’m looking.

“As cool as it sounds to compete in something else, the truth is mentally I’m not there yet. I’m still so engaged in this, and I think a bit of time off or out of a seat will probably do me good, so I would probably use that as opposed to trying to jump in something else and stay busy in a different category. So I would still say pretty convincingly it wouldn’t happen anywhere else.”

The eight-time grand prix winner is the only McLaren driver to win an F1 race in the last decade. He has 32 podiums and three poles to his name.

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