Wherever he ends up next year, Daniel Ricciardo keeps smiling.
Formula 1’s most famous pearl whites reappeared on Monday when the Australian driver posted to Instagram for the first time since it was reported that he would be replaced by Oscar Piastri at McLaren in 2023.
Ricciardo enjoyed his mid-season break in what appeared to be his sunny California base, keeping it short and sweet.
“Hello,” he said, adding a solar emoji while standing in a swimming pool.
Ricciardo has been praised for his dignity and stylish response to constant speculation about his future in the sport during a rocky season in 2022.
The Aussie F1 veteran became the story of the F1 mid-year break when it was reported that he was being moved for his 21-year-old compatriot Piastri.
The news broke last week after Fernando Alonso dazzled the F1 world when he jumped into Sebastian Vettel’s vacant seat at Aston Martin for 2023.
Alpine then announced that Piastri would be the man to replace Alonso, only for the Melburnian to turn down the seat, a bold move for a man who has never angrily driven an F1 car.
But news leaked over the weekend that it was Ricciardo’s seat that would take Piastri, while McLaren planned to let go of the eight-time race winner for the prodigious youngster – a move that would reportedly cost McLaren $21 million as a payout to Ricciardo.
It leaves Ricciardo’s career at a crossroads after two largely miserable seasons in papaya, outside of the 2021 win over Monza.
Ricciardo had been beaten regularly by team-mate Lando Norris and struggled to get his head around the car.
The 32-year-old left Renault for McLaren but could return to the Enstone unit now called Alpine, which is open to the move.
Alpine still believes it has a rock-solid deal with Piastri and still plans to put the young Aussie in the seat, despite reports that the FIA’s Contract Recognition Board had approved Piastri’s move.
Originally published as Daniel Ricciardo posts for the first time since McLaren’s resignation