Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has insisted that a final decision is yet to be made over whether to bring Daniel Ricciardo to the team as a reserve driver ahead of next year. The popular Aussie will leave McLaren at the end of the season and has been heavily tipped to join Lewis Hamilton and George Russell at Mercedes before returning to a race seat in 2024.
Reports have suggested that Ricciardo has been in discussions with the Silver Arrows over the last few weeks, although neither party has explicitly confirmed the rumours when quizzed on the topic as of late. Wolff has since delivered an update on the situation by declaring that Mercedes are yet to decide who will occupy their back-up role next year, with Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne set to leave the team when the current campaign draws to a close.
“I think Daniel is talking to several teams about a possible role as a reserve,” said Wolff. “For us, we think he’s a great character, but we are not ready yet to say who our third driver will be next season.
“His personality is an absolute strength and Daniel has been here for a long time. He knows these cars inside out. That can definitely be an advantage, but I don’t want to start any rumours here because the truth is that we haven’t decided anything yet.”
Ricciardo was spotted chatting to Wolff in person earlier this month before the Mercedes team principal flipped the rumour mill into overdrive when he was seen wearing the McLaren driver’s merchandise prior to the Mexican Grand Prix. It remains to be seen whether the Silver Arrows will eventually poach Ricciardo, though, with a number of options thought to be available to the 33-year-old as he considers his next career move.
The man himself recently hinted at continuing his involvement in F1 by insisting that he wants to stay in the paddock in some capacity when asked about the current state of play by Sky Sports.
“I can confidently say that I won’t be on the grid behind a wheel [next year],” he said. “But I still want to be in the sport, and I want to be working with a team still with the ambition to be back on the grid in 2024.
“I feel like a bit of time away from a race seat will do me good, and then try to rebuild on something for 2024. I’m not done but it will look a bit different. I honestly don’t [know where right now]. I’m certainly talking to teams, but I still want to obviously keep a foot in the door, as I said, for 2024.
“I’m sure seeing the lights go out in race one, I’ll already have that itch so I will want to be back in 2024.”