As Daniel Ricciardo prepares for a year away from the Formula 1 grid, a motorcycle trip across the United States is planned.
Although we will still see Ricciardo at selected rounds of the 2023 season, since he has returned to Red Bull as a third driver with focus also on media and marketing activities, he is not going to be visiting every venue on the calendar after opting to step back from the grid.
Ricciardo has endured two frustrating seasons with McLaren, his move from Enstone to Woking not bringing about the kind of performances expected, leading to McLaren ending his contract a year before it was due to expire.
There was a potential opening at Haas, but Ricciardo chose not to pursue it and instead use a year out of the firing line to try to rebuild his love for Formula 1, as well as gauge just how strong his desire is to return to racing action.
And it seems he already has a plan in place to use up a big chunk of the time, that involving taking a motorcycle ride across the United States.
Ricciardo has a strong affection for the United States, his entrance into the United States GP paddock in 2022 iconic as he arrived on horseback in cowboy gear, serenaded by country tunes.
“I’m really trying to find a balance of still staying in the sport, to some degree, but giving myself time to, again, just have time for me,” Ricciardo told Speedcafe.com.
“That’s even as simple as even just getting more time to myself to train, to spend [time] in the gym, to get better, whatever.
“That’s what people also don’t understand – I’m sorry, I’m not attacking them – but our schedule’s so busy that I might train one day a week.
“Just taking more time for me to do things, prioritise some other things but also I’m trying to plan a ride across America, that’s something that I know will be yes, exciting, fun, but I’ll also just get so much self-reflection time.
“That stuff, for me, is really powerful; just being alone and going through nature.
“All these things, they’re things I’m looking forward to. And I think getting enough alone time as well will answer a lot of questions and give me clarity moving forward; if 2024 is the best thing for me to be back on the grid or not.
“Then it’s up to teams as well to feel like I’m worthy, but I think I’ll just answer a lot of questions for myself next year.”
Daniel Ricciardo will probably decide he wants to return
Although the Aussie may have some doubts over his love for Formula 1 after that McLaren spell, it would be very surprising if this year out of the series tells him that he does not want to come back.
After all, he has stated that he was not looking at racing in any series but Formula 1 at this stage, such was his confidence that this is where he still needs to be.
Time certainly does not stand still in the world of Formula 1, and it likely will not take long for Ricciardo to file those McLaren days as bad memories and look to the future with a clear mind, at which point he will likely see that ideal future as being back on the grid.
Then it is over to him and what level of competitiveness he is willing to accept in a team. Despite what happened at McLaren, his past form will likely be enough to convince a midfield team to give him another chance, but it is whether that is enough for him as he remains intent on challenging for wins again.