Where will Daniel Ricciardo go next? What might happen to him? And just what does his future seem like? These are questions that concern the die-hard fan, the one who’s not yet become the F1 fanboy and begun ranting over the World Wide Web for reasons best known to him and unbeknownst to any soothsayer anywhere on the face of the earth.
But while a flurry of questions at this time are obvious, what isn’t, however, is to make sense of the fact that there aren’t too many choices left for F1’s Honeybadger, the man we know as Daniel Joseph Ricciardo.
He may just head to Haas, the likelihood of which becomes certain given all news updates from well-informed news sources point to the fact that Gunther Steiner and the Australian driver met recently.
However, here’s what’s happened; something that did seem evident at the back of what has clearly been a lacklustre stint for the super-talented former Red Bull driver at McLaren.
The Andreas Seidl-led side and Daniel Ricciardo have amicably parted ways; the exit from the iconic British team is but a matter of time. It is a matter of eight more races, to be precise, which includes the forthcoming Belgian Grand Prix, due next.
Having said that, the biggest question of them all that beckons a Daniel Ricciardo response albeit one that may not feature the usually wide smile is this:
What does Daniel Ricciardo himself feel about his McLaren stint? As on date, his has been a journey that has, at the back of 35 Grands Prix, yielded a solitary podium.
That the podium yielded a win putting an end to a nine-year drought for McLaren was, is, and shall remain the most beautiful memory for Daniel Ricciardo with the British legend.
Which is why it perhaps makes sense that when they’ll look behind, whether critics and admirers alike, they’ll remember more than the string of heartbreaks that Ricciardo endured at a team where he was expected to surge.
They’ll cherish, as they should, the sight of the man behind F1’s most infectious smile relishing a well-deserved victory at the track called the Cathedral of Speed: Monza.
That Ricciardo clinched a famous win a year back in time in Tifosi-land was in many ways, a supreme effort. It was, for starters, a fitting reward of patience of those who had vested their faith in the Honeybadger. It was also a tour de force effort from Danny-Ric in that he bagged the race lead succeeding in pulling away from none other than Max Verstappen of Red Bull.
There are drivers you feel comfortable going wheel-to-wheel against. And there are those whose mere appearance in your rearview mirror poses an onerous threat.
You know by now where to place Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in that regard.
Moreover, to take the papaya-liveried car to the top of the podium at a time where the Hamilton versus Verstappen saga was F1’s dominant narrative was awe-inspiring, besides being a reprieve of sorts for fans perhaps exhausted by either a Max or a Lewis triumph.
But as it often happens to the best on the grid, one dominant win does not guarantee a string of victories. Monza’s ebullience didn’t translate into several wins, something the Daniel Ricciardo resume so desperately craves especially today.
Having said that, what lies ahead of Daniel Ricciardo could be the possibility of doing something special at Haas with Kevin Magnussen aside. That’s if and when Mick Schumacher moves to a different role.
And maybe that is where the Daniel Ricciardo predicament rests; in the ebb of uncertainty, always shuttling between what’s a given and the ‘what could.’
But imagine, what if Daniel Ricciardo were to leave F1 altogether, thus prompting a sight no racing nerd or fan anywhere would relish?
Isn’t a Haas seat, then a saving grace? This, forget not, is a team that’s ahead of the troika of Alpha Tauri, Aston Martin and Williams.
If it so happened that one of us was lucky enough to elicit a response from the smiling man, who knows, he may already be smiling. But, who knows, maybe Daniel Ricciardo is already smiling?
And isn’t that what F1 needs from the Honeybadger? A competitive, fast as hell driver that wins and smiles instead of sulking under a cloud of under performance and forgettable results?