Mercedes have given a hint that they could be about to sign Daniel Ricciardo to become their reserve driver in 2023 after their current stand in Stoffel Vandoorne signed a contract to join Aston Martin in the same role next year. The Australian has been heavily rumoured to become the backup to Lewis Hamilton and George Russell after his release from McLaren, with the move appearing to be getting closer.
Ricciardo is one of the most popular drivers in the paddock but has endured two difficult seasons at McLaren, falling far behind the standards set by his team mate Lando Norris. As a result, the papaya outfit decided to terminate his contract a year early in order to replace him with fellow Aussie and Alpine reserve Oscar Piastri.
The 32-year-old has already confirmed that he will not be racing on the grid next season after being overlooked for Fernando Alonso’s seat at Alpine and being uninterested in the potential vacancies at Williams and Haas. He has reportedly had talks with both Mercedes and former team Red Bull about spending the year as a reserve driver as he looks to make his way back on the race track properly in 2024.
The links to Mercedes have been the strongest and it appears a deal is getting closer with current reserve Stoffel Vandoorne taking up the same role with Aston Martin next year. The Belgian follows fellow backup Nyck de Vries out the door as the Dutchman takes his first step into Formula One proper after replacing Pierre Gasly at Alpha Tauri next season.
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The pair’s departures leave a vacancy as the reserve to the British duo with the position increasingly likely to be filled by Ricciardo. After the Mexican Grand Prix Russell hinted that the decision was in the Aussie’s court but one he hoped would be taken up.
“Yeah I think it would be interesting,” he told Sky Sports when asked about Ricciardo joining the team. “We would like to see that but it’s up to Daniel to decide what he wants to do with his future.”
The McLaren star also suggested a reserve drive was looking more likely after the race as he looks to keep fit to compete in 2024. Sunday’s Grand Prix was one of the highlights of the driver’s season coming through the pack to finish seventh, claiming driver of the day in the process.
“Yeah my mission is to be back on the grid in 24,” he explained. “That’s it’s honestly where my head’s at as well. I feel like I’ve been a time away from a race seat will actually do me good and then try to rebuild on something. Let’s say I’m not done but it will look a little bit different.
“I’m certainly talking to teams but I still want to obviously keep a foot in the door. I would want to stay active to some degree. I’m aware that doing absolutely nothing for years is probably not good, especially just saying race fit.”