Daniel Ricciardo says he isn't "scared" by the lack of top seats in Formula 1 for next season, insisting scarcity has always been the norm in the sport.
As he stands in the wings at Red Bull after losing his drive with McLaren at the end of last year, Ricciardo is pondering his future and slowly but surely coming out as candidate for a full-time return to F1 for 2024.
However, despite his most recent struggles with McLaren and the many unanswered questions they produced, the Aussie still believes that he's still worthy of a seat with a top-tier outfit.
But beggars can't be choosers and the 33-year-old's options for 2024 appear limited. However, Ricciardo claims to be untroubled by that prospect.
"It doesn’t scare me," he told Top Gear. "It’s always been like that. And I knew this was going to be a risk obviously removing myself from a seat.
"But I think it’s clear what I don’t want. I don’t want [just] any seat next year, as much as I think I want to be racing again."
Recently, for the second time in the past six months, Haas team boss Guenther Steiner has opened the door to Ricciardo, or at least to the possibility of sitting down and talking with the latter about a seat with the team in 2024.
Unfortunately, the US outfit's second-tier sporting and financial profile leaves it with little chance of attracting a driver of the caliber of Ricciardo.
"I don’t want to just start from zero, and kind of build my [F1] career from scratch. It’s not coming from an arrogant place. But I’m just past that," he added.
"I don’t think that’s going to stimulate me or give me that second wind I’m looking for. So it makes the top seats even scarcer.
"But that’s where I know I will be able to perform at my best and thrive. That’s the sort of stuff I’m keeping my eyes on."
Ricciardo departed the grid at the end of last season with a low morale and his confidence in tatters. But he admits that his first day in Red bull's simulator at Milton Keynes went a long way towards reviving his self-belief.
"The first day back at Red Bull in the simulator was the most fun I’ve ever had driving a simulator, which is crazy, especially because at this point in my career that’s normally the boring work," he said.
"But Simon [Rennie] my engineer at the time at Red Bull - he’s running the sim now - so it was like we were back in the routine of 2018 and mate, I loved it.
"It took me a few laps to get going and once I did it all felt familiar again. I would honestly say in a day my confidence went from being probably pretty low to back at the levels I remember being at.
"It was a good day. And I think just having that time off [also] just gave me a chance to, in a way, forget a little bit of the last two years. Just go in there with a fresh mind."