Daniel Ricciardo believes attending his home grand prix in Australia will provide a true test of the extent of his determination to return to Formula 1 in the future.
For the first time since his debut Australian Grand Prix entry in 2012, Ricciardo will not be in competitive action around the Albert Park Circuit this year, with the home crowd having the opportunity to root for his fellow countryman and replacement at McLaren, Oscar Piastri.
Ricciardo, however, has now revealed he still plans to attend the event in Melbourne, and it will become the first race he is spotted at in his new capacity as Red Bull’s reserve driver.
The eight-time F1 race winner is prepared for the adrenaline to get pumping again within the confines of a grand prix occasion and has pinpointed it as a weekend that could uncover a lot of answers concerning his burning desire to get back on the grid.
“That’s really it”, Ricciardo replied when told he exists as a racing driver to compete rather than address the media in the role of a simulator driver.
“I’ll be watching the first race from likely a television so I think that will start to maybe warm up a few feelings and then I’ll be in Melbourne – that’ll be the first race I attend.
“I think that just kinda being around the whole atmosphere and the noise, the sound, like the smell, all of it, that’ll probably do what it does and whether I’m stoked and excited and wanting to get back or whether I’m just kinda happy being a fan for a bit longer, we’ll see.
“But I think Melbourne will probably tell me a lot,” the Australian proclaimed.
Upon his return to Red Bull, Ricciardo confirmed he wouldn’t be attending every single race in 2023 as he endeavours to rediscover the passion he lost for the sport after a largely gruelling two years spent trying unsuccessfully to make things work at McLaren.
Having previously stressed at the end of last season that he wanted to use the early time away at the start of this year to work out his long-term aspirations, Ricciardo has reiterated he is still at the stage where he is working everything out in his head before deciding on a future direction for his career.
“Let’s say taking it as a day-by-day approach,” Ricciardo said.
“I’m trying not to put too much stress on it and [be] like ‘okay by March 1st I really need to know how I feel’. I really wanna just kinda let it happen naturally and I know that being here at the launch it does excite me and it is kind of a cool feeling, but I am also really happy to be kind of taking the year I’m taking, at least currently where I sit it does really feel right.
“I feel like the holiday is kind of winding down, like I do feel like I’ve had close to enough time off. I’m gonna go Superbowl next weekend and then I’ll start properly, let’s say, get back into more of a regime and a bit more training and stuff.
“It kind of still feels right where I’m at and I’ll see what happens over the course of the next couple of months, but I don’t think anything needs to be rushed,” he added.