Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo has revealed why he rejected McLaren’s offer to join the constructor’s IndyCar team next year, declaring he has “unfinished business” in Formula 1.
Last week, Ricciardo confirmed the 2022 season would be his last at McLaren, with the two parties agreeing to part ways with 12 months remaining on his contract.
The 33-year-old, who has won eight grand prix races since making his F1 debut in 2011, will reportedly receive an eight-figure payout from McLaren in the region of $14.5 million.
He is expected to be replaced by young compatriot Oscar Piastri, the reigning F2 champion and Alpine’s current test driver, or AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly.
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But before sacking the Perth driver, McLaren chief executive Zak Brown made a desperate bid to keep Ricciardo on the team roster by offering him a seat in United States’ leading single-seater championship — IndyCar.
“Yes, we spoke about that,” Brown confirmed to MotorSport.
“As Andreas (Seidl) said, he’s an exceptional racing driver and any team that he drives for is so privileged to have Daniel drive for them, and we do have a variety of racing activities.
“But, that being said, he’s very focused on Formula 1.”
Ricciardo, who has a close affiliation with the United States and is a lifelong NASCAR fanatic, would become an immediate superstar if he joined IndyCar team Arrow McLaren SP.
The American fanbase would have undeniably welcomed him with open arms, particularly since becoming a cult hero on Netflix documentary series Drive to Survive.
And McLaren potentially would have saved millions if Ricciardo had accepted the IndyCar offer, but he is fiercely determined to stay on the F1 grid.
“I would say currently I still see myself as more of a fan of Indy,” Ricciardo told Formula1.com.
“It’s maybe not necessarily that I’m not interested in it. I think there is some. It’s more that I still feel there is unfinished business here, there’s a little more Daniel here in F1.
“That’s why I’ve kind of got blinkers on for F1 still and to try to make it work here before I invest time into something else.”
Despite being a backward step of sorts, rekindling his partnership with Alpine seems to be the most logical destination for Ricciardo, but the vacant seat looks increasingly likely to go to Gasly.
The Australian would therefore be looking at signing with AlphaTauri, Williams, Haas or Alfa Romeo, but he won’t make a final decision on his future until after the gruelling triple-header wraps up in Italy next weekend.
“I think it will be ongoing for, I want to say, at least the next few weeks,” he explained.
“I think as well for me with everything that’s gone on I don’t want to make a quick, rash decision. I certainly want to see also how I feel once all this dust settles.
“I feel like by the end of this triple-header I’ll get a bit more of an idea of what feels right.
“I think the main thing I would address to fans is I still want to do it. That’s probably the positive side I’ll put out there to them.
“I appreciate there are also no guarantees, but we’ll see what happens.
“When I know, everyone will know – I don’t really have a reason to hold anything back now or have any secrets. But I still think it will be a bit of time.”
The F1 season resumes this weekend with the Dutch Grand Prix, with lights out scheduled for 11pm AEST on Sunday evening.