Ricciardo: 'I don't want to go back to ground zero'

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Daniel Ricciardo says he's still searching for answers regarding his future in F1, but the Aussie already knows what he doesn't want should he decide to return to the grid in 2024.

After McLaren and Ricciardo decided to terminate their working relationship at the end of last season, the eight-time Grand Prix winner opted to spend a year on the sidelines, although his reserve driver status with Red Bull means that he can be called up at short notice if necessary.

While keeping a foot in the door, Ricciardo is not only pondering his next move but also looking back at the past in search of the answers and lessons that will help enhance his vision of the future.

"Once you’re in the season, it’s relentless," he told Fox Sports. "All you really have a chance to do is dissect the last race and [say] ‘okay, the set up was this and we’ll do that next time’.

"You don’t actually get a look at the big picture.

"Even like now I look back and even like the last two years at McLaren and I’m like, ‘okay, yeah, I understand why that didn’t work'.

"I would have done that better or done that differently or cut these things out or added that.

"So I’m even in a position now, only a few months removed from last season, where if I get back on the grid next year I already have things that I want to do different and it’s quite cool.

"I wouldn’t have had that if I was still in the race car."

In Melbourne, Ricciardo admitted feeling a buzz once again as he witnessed the action, embedded all weekend with Red Bull Racing in the team's garage.

The 33-year-old's immersion is helping him pave his way towards 2024. And while he hasn't yet chosen his next step, Ricciardo does have a clear vision of what he does not want in the future: a return to F1 at all costs.

"One thing I want to get out of this year is I want to know what I want, but I also want to know what I don’t want," he said. "And I think I can already answer that.

"I don’t want to go back to ground zero. I don’t want to just be on the grid to be on the grid and struggle in 18th place. So I don’t want to be on the grid at any cost.

"I know that it’s harder to just jump straight into a top team in terms of availability. But I know that’s where I want to be. I know I thrive in those situations when there is more on the line.

"I think at this point in my career to [have] that real hunger and motivation to race at the front, that’s all I really want.

"I know it probably makes it even a little harder to get to, but that’s where I’m looking."

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