And it was a scenario Ricciardo opened the door to when asked if he would be interested in joining the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes in a reserve capacity at last weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix. 

"I'm pretty open minded with any scenario,” Ricciardo told media including at Zandvoort.

Lewis Hamilton VS Fernando Alonso - THE RIVALRY! | F1 2022

"I think there's pros and cons with all of it. There's pros with having some time off as well, currently the 18 months I've had has been more challenging than not so maybe some time away would be good.

"But then also staying active is good. That's why I kind of want to hear everything. Even if it's a reserve, I don't want to be too proud to say I'm too good for that.

"I just want to hear everything and see what makes sense. It could be something that sets me up better for the future and next year may be one of those years where I need a bit of patience.”

As an eight-time grand prix winner with huge F1 experience spanning the last decade, Ricciardo would be a valuable commodity for a team to have on their books.

The 33-year-old still has a lot to offer, alongside his charismatic personality, and would be a strong option to place in the car in the event that one of Red Bull, Ferrari, or Mercedes’ regulars were unable to compete. 

Ricciardo would add to Mercedes’ already healthy reserve options, which currently consists of Formula E champions Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne. 

There could also be a potential race seat opening at the eight-time constructors’ champions in 2024, with Lewis Hamilton yet to decide on his F1 future post-2023. 

Or could a return to Red Bull be on the cards? Ricciardo is known quantity and highly thought of by the Red Bull hierarchy after spending five successful seasons at Milton Keynes between 2014 and 2018. 

Following Alex Albon’s return to F1 on a full-time basis with Williams this season, Red Bull’s reserve driver role is currently being shared by F2 frontrunner Liam Lawson and ex-F1 driver Sebastien Buemi. Ricciardo’s addition would strengthen Red Bull’s stable.

The same is true at Ferrari. Antonio Giovinazzi and Mick Schumacher are the Scuderia’s current reserves, but Schumacher is reportedly set to end his affiliation with the Italian outfit at the end of the year, while Giovinazzi has been linked as a potential candidate to take Schumacher’s seat at Haas. 

If one or both were to depart, Ferrari would be in need of a replacement for 2023. Ricciardo, whose father was born in Italy, has been linked to F1’s most famous team in the past. He was tipped as a front-runner to replace Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari in 2021 before Carlos Sainz was announced as Charles Leclerc’s new teammate, and Ricciardo revealed he had held talks with the Scuderia. 

Could the move finally happen in 2023? 

Ricciardo fighting for F1 2023 seat

The Australian is a free agent for 2023 and is searching for a new spot in the driver line-up after he and McLaren agreed terms for his early departure at the end of the current campaign following his well-documented struggles of the past 18 months. 

Ricciardo has not lived up to expectations at McLaren and has been unable to match the performances of his younger teammate Lando Norris. 

Oscar Piastri will replace Ricciardo next season after McLaren won a contract battle with Alpine to secure the highly-rated reigning F2 champion’s services. 

Ricciardo is now left weighing up his options for the future. There are very few seats left for 2023, with just five openings remaining at Alpine, Alfa Romeo, AlphaTauri, Haas and Williams. 

Following the confirmation of his impending McLaren exit, Ricciardo was immediately linked with a return to Alpine, who he raced for in 2019 and 2020 when it competed as Renault. 

But Alpine’s first choice to replace Aston Martin-bound Fernando Alonso is believed to be Pierre Gasly, who has a contract to race for AlphaTauri in 2023. 

Red Bull is willing to release Gasly from his contract so he can make the move to Alpine, but the deal hinges on whether IndyCar star Colton Herta is granted a superlicence, freeing him up to become Yuki Tsunoda’s teammate at AlphaTauri. 

If that comes to fruition, and with Alfa Romeo expected to retain Guanyu Zhou alongside Valtteri Bottas, it would leave Haas and Williams as Ricciardo’s only realistic suitors for a full-time seat next year. 

Ricciardo has not ruled out the possibility of moving further down the F1 grid.

"I still definitely have the ability to love a project," he said. "But of course if there's this longer project, and this one where you're going to win tomorrow, of course I'm going to go for the quick wins.

"They are things I will definitely give some thought to. I don't also want to be stubborn or short sighted and be like, 'ah no I'm not interested in that', I will give everything its respected thought.

"From 2017, every two years I've been with a different team. I don't want to just sign something and think, wait now something else is there for 2024. So it's probably not as simple as just getting somewhere on the grid next year.

"It can go probably in many different directions so I don't think it needs an immediate decision. It's going to be about what's best for me."