Mercedes will have one eye on eventually finding Lewis Hamilton’s permanent replacement in the years to come with Daniel Ricciardo tipped by some to take a seat with the Silver Arrows, but Jolyon Palmer can’t see it happening. Ricciardo is without a seat for the 2023 season after being replaced at McLaren by Oscar Piastri.
Ricciardo has struggled ever since joining McLaren with Lando Norris blowing him away in both years they’ve been team-mates. The 33-year-old is 76 points adrift of Norris in this year’s standings with the Brit establishing himself as the best-of-the-rest behind the Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes drivers.
Ricciardo did show what he’s truly capable of on his day last time out at the Mexican Grand Prix when he raced through the pack to finish seventh. But it’s too late for Ricciardo now in trying to seal a seat for next year with a reserve seat more than likely.
With Nyck de Vries joining AlphaTauri and Stoffel Vandoorne switching to Aston Martin, Mercedes are without any reserve drivers for next year. It’s sparked speculation that Ricciardo could join Mercedes as the third driver for next year with an eye on prepping the Aussie to eventually take Hamilton’s seat when it becomes available.
But Palmer can’t understand why Mercedes would want to go with Ricciardo given that neither Alpine or McLaren were willing to give him a chance. “Are you really putting Daniel in if Lewis retires? I don’t think so,” Palmer told the F1 Nation podcast.
“Let’s be honest, McLaren doesn’t put him in, Alpine didn’t want him. Mercedes? At the top of Formula 1, after two years like that? I don’t see it! I think the best way to rebuild his career is to stay on the grid and get results.
“But you can’t do that as a third driver. That’s the frustrating thing, which I don’t understand. This year he’s been pretty down to earth with Norris and McLaren and the mood towards him.
“I know from my experience at Renault that demoralizes you. Maybe he’s done now and wants a break for the first time in ten just put your feet up for years.”
Ricciardo will have to wait a bit longer for Hamilton’s seat too as the seven-time world champion is set to sign a new deal before the start of next season. Hamilton has made it clear that he’s still got the hunger to keep fighting in F1 for many years to come and will want to be fighting for race wins again next year.