Lewis Hamilton says Daniel Ricciardo should not be aiming for a third driver role in F1 next year, adding that the Australian has earned the right to be on the grid in 2023.
After a trying 2022 season, Ricciardo's F1 future was thrown into doubt last month when it was revealed that he would be replaced at McLaren next year by Oscar Piastri.
With his chances of a race seat next year seemingly dwindling, Ricciardo revealed during the Dutch Grand Prix weekend that he might be open to accepting a reserve driver role for 2023, with a view towards returning to a race seat in the future.
Rumours surfaced earlier this week that Mercedes were interested in signing Ricciardo up for such a role, with a view towards the Australian then replacing Hamilton if the Briton decides to leave F1 when his current contract expires at the end of 2023.
However, Hamilton said he felt Ricciardo should be aiming for a race seat rather than facing a spell on F1's sidelines.
"I think he's far too talented and he's earned the right to be amongst us all racing," Hamilton told media including RacingNews365.com.
"If he's part of our team, that'd be great, but a third role is not really what's best for him."
"If I was managing him, he'd be racing!"
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Hamilton keen to race beyond 2023
Rumours linking Ricciardo to Mercedes gathered pace with Hamilton's Silver Arrows contract set to expire at the end of 2023.
But though the seven-time World Champion will be 39 by the time the 2024 season starts, Hamilton refuted the notion that he was set to walk away from Mercedes, with whom the Briton has had a professional relationship since he was 12 years old.
"For me, I feel healthier than I've ever felt, I'm feeling fit, I love what I'm doing and I don't plan on stopping any time soon," said Hamilton.
"My goal is always to be with Mercedes - I signed with them in 1997.
"I love that we have the long partnership we have, I feel like we are embarking on a lot of really positive things, not only in the sport but outside and I think there's a lot to accomplish together. I want to be a part of that."
Ricciardo silent on Mercedes links, wants to race
Asked about rumours linking him with Mercedes, Ricciardo simply said "no comment", but reiterated his desire to be on the grid in 2023.
"The truth is I'm keeping every option open, not only for next year but for the future," said Ricciardo.
"I still don't know what next year looks like. As Lewis said, I do want to be on the grid, I do want to race.
"Although it's certainly been a challenging time in my career, it hasn't taken the love of the sport away from me and that desire to still be here and still compete."
Russell supportive of Ricciardo racing
Hamilton's views on Ricciardo were echoed by Mercedes teammate George Russell, who also said the Australian was deserving of a race seat next year.
"I've not heard any reports or heard anything but I think Daniel's track record speaks for itself," said Russell.
"He's a driver deserving of a seat on the Formula 1 grid and it would be a real shame for him to not be there next season.
"But obviously from our side, having a driver of his calibre joining the team in any capacity would be a real boost."
F1 Podcast: What's next in F1's 2023 driver market?
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