Red Bull reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo signs autographs in Melbourne / © AFP
Daniel Ricciardo says he still has the hunger to compete in Formula One and the "signs are pointing" to him getting back on the grid in 2024.
The 33-year-old left McLaren at the end of last season, a year before his contract ran out to make way for fellow Australian Oscar Piastri.
Ricciardo, who has eight career wins, had largely played second fiddle to teammate Lando Norris and opted to take time away from the sport's demanding schedule before signing on as Red Bull's reserve driver.
As part of the deal, Ricciardo will only attend a handful of the 23 races this season and is at his first in Melbourne this weekend, where he was mobbed by fans Friday.
Australian media said he underwent a seat fitting and was taking part in Red Bull's team strategy meetings.
"The signs are pointing towards getting back on the grid," he told Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper of his future plans.
"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?"
He said his brief time away had already made him realise "how much I do care about it".
"I want to be back with a top team, and a team where I have that confidence back and my mojo."
Where that opportunity might come remains to be seen.
With double world champion Max Verstappen dominant at Red Bull and teammate Sergio Perez winning the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix a fortnight ago, it seems unlikely the door will open there.
Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin also appear to have settled line-ups, which would mean a mid-level team -- something Ricciardo has previously scoffed at.