McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo looks set to lose his seat at the team, with Alpine reserve Oscar Piastri likely to take over from his fellow countryman next season.
However, the former Red Bull driver sent a defiant message to the team despite speculation surrounding his place in the side.
According to Racer.com, the decision to get rid of Ricciardo has already been made by the Woking outfit.
Out of respect for Ricciardo, they are waiting to make the official announcement of Piastri only after the 33-year-old finds a new team for himself.
While Piastri’s route to McLaren is also not without hassles and the team could be set for a legal tussle with Alpine for his signature, Ricciardo has been rumoured to take Fernando Alonso’s vacant seat at Alpine.
What did Ricciardo say?
Ricciardo addressed McLaren just before all this transfer drama began.
“To be honest, switching off normally gives me like a natural reset,” Ricciardo said after the Hungarian GP.
“To a point where I imagine in, say, 10 days, two weeks into the break, I would have kind of got the holiday out of my system and then I’ll build that hunger back again.
“So I’ll naturally think about it, after getting time off. That’s normally how it works for me. Again, go out with friends, drink some beers, have fun.
“And then I’ll get to the point when I start to not feel guilty but just like ‘all right, time to turn it on again’.
“Then it’s kind of a natural switch that will come back probably after 14 days. A bit like last year, [I want to] kind of start that second half of this season with a positive bang and just get the ball rolling. The triple-header, it’s intense.
“So I think come out and set some strong intentions. That’s the plan. Obviously it’s easier said than done. But that’s certainly the plan.”
Ricciardo has noticeably struggled all season, standing far behind teammate Lando Norris amidst just four top-10 finishes all year.
McLaren boss had hinted at early exit for Ricciardo
His best performance (P6) came at his home Grand Prix in Melbourne.
McLaren boss Zak Brown had recently spoken about how Ricciardo had “not met his or our expectations” and had hinted that the Honey Badger’s time at the team may be limited.
“I don’t want to get into the contract but there are mechanisms in which we’re committed to each other and then there’s mechanisms in which we’re not,” said Brown.
“I’ve spoken with Daniel about it, we’re not getting the results that we both hoped for, but we’re both going to continue to push.
“I think he showed at Monza he can win races. We also need to continue to develop our race car, it’s not capable of winning races, but we’d like to see him further up the grid.
“We’ll just play it – I don’t want to say ‘one race at a time’ because we’re not going to one race at a time – but we’ll just see how things develop, what he wants to do.”
It looks almost certain now that Ricciardo’s time at McLaren is up.
It is just a matter of time before the official announcement is made.