Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo at 2022 McLaren launch
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Daniel Ricciardo has reportedly received approaches from four teams as the McLaren star faces a nervous wait over his future. The Australian driver confirmed recently he is under contract until 2023 but some disappointing performances have caused the Papaya to consider their options ahead of next season.
According to ESPN, four teams have contacted Ricciardo’s representatives to test the water and enquire about his availability. That in itself is not uncommon in the driver market when teams begin planning for next season, but it proves the Australian remains an attractive commodity.
The 32-year-old has unquestionably struggled against the impressive Briton Lando Norris since joining the Woking-based team, although the team’s only victory since 2012 came from Ricciardo leading home a McLaren 1-2 at the Italian Grand Prix last year.
Reports have suggested the British manufacturer have signed a contract with Alpine reserve driver Oscar Piastri for next season and want Ricciardo to leave on his own accord, as forcing the driver nicknamed the ‘Honey Badger’ out would prove to be an expensive exercise.
And that speculation has only been fuelled after a bizarre 48-hour period in which Alpine announced Piastri as their driver for 2023 — only for the 21-year-old to publicly refute their statement and insist he would not be driving for the team.
It leaves Ricciardo in the unfavourable position of not knowing where he will be racing next season. Despite being under contract for another 17 months with McLaren on his £20m-a-year deal, it is understood his relationship has weakened with CEO Zak Brown due to his persistence in finding a replacement such as Piastri.
Ricciardo is thought to have exit clauses in his contract which allow him to terminate his deal, although he released a public statement in July saying he intends to see out his deal which would suggest he won’t use them. But if he does leave McLaren, he won’t be short of admirers as he mulls over his next move.
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The report adds that the Perth-born racer, who has won eight times in his career and raced alongside Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull, remains a popular figure in his native Australia and also the United States. That may put him in the frame for a drive with Haas, with Mick Schumacher’s future yet to be decided.
It has been floated that Ricciardo could make a shock return to Alpine — the team he last raced for in 2020 when they were named Renault — to fill the void left by Fernando Alonso after the veteran announced his departure to Aston Martin.
AlphaTauri and Williams are also yet to finalise one of their two seats for 2023 and may have been the teams behind an enquiry for Ricciardo, while Mercedes would surely explore the idea of a short-team deal if Lewis Hamilton quit the sport. Whatever happens, Ricciardo will have options to choose from if does bid farewell to McLaren.
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