Lewis Hamilton denies Daniel Ricciardo is in line to join Mercedes next year and replace him in 2024
Lewis Hamilton denies Daniel Ricciardo is lining up to join Mercedes next year and replace him in 2024 – while praising Aussie as ‘too talented’ to spend a year as a reserve driver
- McLaren has announced that Ricciardo will not drive for them in 2023
- He has been replaced by the young Aussie Lando Norris at the manufacturer
- Hamilton is 37 and nearing the end of an F1 career including seven titles
- However, the British champion is not ready to relinquish his ride to Ricciardo
British champion Lewis Hamilton has backed Aussie Daniel Ricciardo to continue his career in F1 – just not at Mercedes.
With Ricciardo being dumped by McLaren at the end of the season, the Aussie has no contract for 2023 and has said he is willing to be reserve driver to stand a chance with another team.
Meanwhile, rumors continue to circulate that seven-time F1 champion Hamilton could be ready to retire. He is 37 and currently sixth in the Drivers’ Championship.
That has led to speculation that Ricciardo could join Mercedes as a reserve driver in 2023 before taking over from Hamilton in 2024.
Hamilton and Ricciardo during the preparation day for the Italian Grand Prix, Monza
But the Briton has poured cold water on those claims and plans to keep racing for as long as possible.
“I think he should race first,” said Hamilton ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
“I think he is way too talented – he deserves the right to race between all of us.
“Of course it would be great if he is part of our team, but I don’t think a third role is really the space for him.
“If I led him, he would race.”
Hamilton was unequivocal when asked about his future plans.
‘For years we’ve been walking around, up and down, with stories about retirement and quitting.
“For me, I feel healthier than I’ve ever felt, and I focus a lot on that.
“I’m feeling fit, I love what I’m doing, and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon – sorry, friend!”
With fellow Aussie Lando Norris set to rise up the ranks to become a McLaren driver in 2023, Ricciardo is still looking for a new gig.
He has been linked to a series of career changes, including the IndyCar Series and even a massive pay cut for touring cars in the Australian Supercars Championship.
Norris during the preparation day for the Italian Grand Prix, Monza
He does not rule out making a reserve drive, including the opportunity to race under Hamilton at Mercedes.
“I’m really judging everything,” he said.
“I still don’t know what next year will look like. I do want to be on the starting grid, I really want to race – I discussed it a few weeks ago.
“While this has certainly been a challenging time in my career, it hasn’t taken away from me the love of the sport and the desire to still be here and still compete.
“There’s no reason for me to withhold information now. There are no secrets. It’s all open and beyond.
‘In short, I don’t have anything in order yet. I haven’t confirmed anything. I think if I do, I’ll be the first to tell you.’
Ricciardo driving the McLaren MCL36 Mercedes during the F1 Grand Prix of the Netherlands
Ricciardo added that he is looking for a long-term position to bolster his future beyond 2023.
“The truth is that I am keeping every option open, not just for next year, but also for the future,” he said.
“It’s not just about what’s good for next year, it’s about what’s good for my future; it goes beyond 2023.
‘Clear [there are] lots of conversations or thoughts about next year and beyond, but like I said, I’m still not sure what that looks like.
“It’s complicated, but if I find out, I’ll tell you.”