- Shock announcement opens up opportunity
- F1 faces driver reshuffle across the board
- Fresh speculation over where Ricciardo will end up
Speculation is already swirling about who will take the coveted seat vacated by Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, presenting Daniel Ricciardo with a surprising and significant opportunity to finish his Formula 1 career.
Following the shock revelation that Hamilton, a seven-time F1 world champion, will be departing Mercedes for Ferrari at the conclusion of the 2024 season, fans are envisioning the possibility of Ricciardo donning the Mercedes colours.
Hamilton said in a statement: ‘I have had an amazing 11 years with this team and I’m so proud of what we have achieved together. Mercedes has been part of my life since I was 13 years old.
‘It’s a place where I have grown up, so making the decision to leave was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. But the time is right for me to take this step and I’m excited to be taking on a new challenge.’
Hamilton’s move to Ferrari on a multi-year deal, aiming for an eighth title and extending his racing career into his forties, has triggered a reshuffling of the driver lineup.
The shock announcement by Lewis Hamilton has opened up a driver’s position at Mercedes
While Aussie Daniel Ricciardo has been linked with a Red Bull homecoming, he will be in the mix for a drive with Mercedes
The 39-year-old expressed his commitment to finishing his tenure at Mercedes on a high note, vowing to give his best performance in 2024 alongside new teammate Charles Leclerc, who replaces Carlos Sainz. Sainz, in turn, is now linked to the open seat at Mercedes.
In the midst of the speculation, Daniel Ricciardo emerges as a strong contender.
The Australian driver, who began last year as a reserve for Red Bull but earned a full-time drive with their junior team AlphaTauri (now Visa Cash App RB) due to stellar performances, is being considered for a promotion to Mercedes.
Despite initial talks of him possibly becoming Max Verstappen’s No.2 driver in 2024, Red Bull’s Christian Horner has expressed unwavering support for Sergio Perez.
‘I am absolutely confident and clear that Checo (Perez) will be our driver next year,’ Horner told motorsport.com in November.
‘Now, if he was injured or something like that, there are circumstances beyond our control. But the clear plan and therefore the clear intention is that he will continue. ‘
Hamilton’s announcement is set to trigger a host of driver announcements before the 2024 Formula 1 series
‘We’re planning to continue. We have announced the AlphaTauri drivers, we have our Red Bull Racing drivers. That is how we intend to go racing in 2024,’ Horner continued.
‘Checo (Perez) has an agreement with us for next year and that’s our intention, for him to be in the car in 2024.
‘We’ll give him all the support we can to ensure that he finishes second (in the drivers’ standings), but there’s no prerequisite that if he doesn’t finish second, you’re out.’
Ricciardo is set to drive for AlphaTauri, rebranded as Visa Cash App RB F1 team, this season, and has openly stated that returning to Red Bull would be a dream ending to his career.
Other potential candidates for the Mercedes seat include former Red Bull driver Alex Albon, who has rebuilt his reputation with Williams, and the young prodigy Andrea Kimi Antonelli, a 17-year-old making his Formula 2 debut this year, offering a unique and unexpected option.