Daniel Ricciardo has explained his decision not to pursue a race seat in Formula One for 2023, as he closes in on a non-racing role with Red Bull.
The Australian is poised to rejoin the team he left in 2018 in a position that may include reserve, promotional and simulator duties, with Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix being his last with McLaren.
Although not confirmed, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has stated that Ricciardo will be joining the team, with Christian Horner welcoming the potential return of the driver on Saturday in Abu Dhabi.
A non-racing role with Red Bull does not necessarily mean Ricciardo's time on the F1 grid is over, though he feels it was the right move in order to take a break from competition.
"I knew that I wanted some time off next year from a race seat and just from competition," he told Motorsport.com.
"It's obviously been pretty tiring the last couple of years with the struggles, so it was pretty clear to me shortly after the summer break that that was what I wanted, and what was going to be best for me.
"So then it was: 'Okay. What's the next best thing?' And the more I thought about it, to obviously be involved to some degree with a top team, that was obviously the preference.
"But it's not done. So that's why I haven't come out and confirmed it, because that's still the truth: it's not done. But I can obviously look you in the eye now and say it's the most likely option at this stage."
Ricciardo also feels this is the right move to assess where he wants to go long-term, giving him the ability to decide without affecting his week-to-week performances on the grid.
"Honestly, I think that's also in a way the beauty with this," he said. "It'll either fuel the fire and make me hungry and more motivated than ever, or it will actually be like 'oh, this is the right thing for you', and in that case then I must be really happy.
"Because as much as you go through highs and lows of racing, I'm still very happy with life, and am privileged to live a good one. So if next year I'm not interested in coming back, then I must be doing some really cool s***."