The “signs are pointing” to Daniel Ricciardo pursuing a Formula One comeback, he said Thursday, but he will decide over the summer whether to pursue opportunities to race in 2024. Here’s what you need to know: “The signs are pointing towards getting back on the grid,” Ricciardo said in a small media roundtable including The Athletic on Thursday ahead of the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. “I feel like that’s currently where I’m tracking, at least in my head. … I’ve even put myself in scenarios now where I’m like, if I got back on the grid tomorrow, what would I do differently? You just don’t have the chance when you’re in it. But I also think that everything happens for a reason. “Having the chance to step back and just review everything from afar, and with the luxury of time as well, not to be forced to make a decision or rush anything, I feel that if I’m to get back on the grid, I honestly believe I’ll be a better version of myself. A more mature, experienced, complete version.” Following his departure from McLaren at the end of last year, the Australian found himself at a major career crossroads. He wasn’t looking to race in F1 just to make up the numbers, yet his struggles at McLaren took him out of consideration for any front-running teams. Ricciardo made peace with the situation, he said. He was happy to take a year out of F1 so he could evaluate where things went wrong with McLaren and consider if he seriously wanted to pursue a comeback or call time on his F1 career. His stint with the team followed tenures at Renault (now Alpine) and Red Bull. Ricciardo has conducted some F1 support work in his new role at Red Bull, the team that gave him his peak years in F1 between 2014 and 2018, to help race drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez. But he’s also spent a lot of time connecting with family and friends since the end of last season, enjoying the quality time that life racing in F1 does not afford. For the first time in his adult life, he wasn’t beholden to a racing schedule. But as Ricciardo started to find surprising levels of satisfaction from gym work — in his words, he “could only be a bit of a slob for so long” — and getting a kick from driving Red Bull’s F1 car simulator, he saw the hunger to race return. “It made me realize how much I do care about it,” he said. Ricciardo also said the recent success of Fernando Alonso, who’s 41 years old and took off the 2019 and 2020 seasons, had reassured him a return would be possible should he decide to pursue one seriously. The desire to race in F1 may be growing again for Ricciardo, but he’s not looking to rebuild his career from the back of the grid. “I want to be back with a top team, and a team where I have that confidence back and my mojo,” he said. “To go back and to maybe put myself in any seat that’s fighting at best for like a top 10, I don’t think it’s going to bring the best out of me. “I see myself, at least in my head, wanting to be back on the grid. But there’s still some terms and conditions, so to speak. It’s not at all costs.” There appear to be limited options for Ricciardo right now if he wants to join a team fighting at the front of the F1 grid. Red Bull has Verstappen and Pérez under contract, while Mercedes, the only leading team without two contracted drivers for next year, is expected to agree to a renewal with Lewis Hamilton in the coming months. Ricciardo said he has yet to explore any possible race seats with teams for next year. He would wait until June or July before making a firm decision with his management about what steps would be needed to realistically pursue a return. “I’m really happy with how I’m going about it for now,” he said. “So I’m not going to do too much more.” Subscribe to The Athletic for in-depth coverage of your favorite players, teams, leagues and clubs. Try a week on us. Luke Smith is a Senior Writer covering Formula 1 for The Athletic. Luke has spent 10 years reporting on Formula 1 for outlets including Autosport, The New York Times and NBC Sports, and is also a published author. He is a graduate of University College London. Follow Luke on Twitter @LukeSmithF1