Daniel Ricciardo’s return to Red Bull Racing as a reserve driver sent shockwaves through the world of Formula 1. The Australian driver, known for his infectious smile and daring overtakes, had previously enjoyed a successful stint with the team from 2014 to 2018 before moving to Renault and subsequently to McLaren.
His comeback to Red Bull as a reserve driver brought with it a sense of nostalgia and raised intriguing possibilities for the future.
Strong beginnings for Ricciardo
Ricciardo’s initial tenure with Red Bull Racing was marked by some remarkable achievements. He made a name for himself as a formidable driver, consistently challenging the dominance of his teammate, four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel. In 2014, Ricciardo achieved three race victories, establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with.
His dynamic driving style and ability to seize opportunities on the track made him a fan favourite and endeared him to the Red Bull Racing faithful.
An attempt to achieve wins elsewhere
After Max Verstappen joined Red Bull Racing, the wheel-to-wheel battles were a sight to behold, often leaving fans on the edge of their seats. While Ricciardo had the edge in terms of experience and a proven track record, Verstappen’s raw speed and fearlessness made him a formidable adversary.
Their rivalry reached its peak during the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix when a collision between the two teammates led to both cars retiring from the race. The incident strained their relationship and served as a pivotal moment in their partnership at Red Bull Racing, which ultimately led to Ricciardo leaving the team for Renault and then McLaren.
Ricciardo returns to Red Bull
His return to Red Bull as a reserve driver was not a surprise, as Ricciardo had been performing poorly with McLaren. The move demonstrated his desire to explore new opportunities and potentially position himself for a future role with Red Bull Racing. As a reserve driver, Ricciardo’s primary responsibilities include simulator work, providing feedback to the team, and being on standby in case one of the regular drivers is unable to compete.
The decision to bring Ricciardo back to Red Bull Racing as a reserve driver holds strategic significance for the team. With a wealth of experience and a proven track record, Ricciardo brings valuable insights and technical expertise to the table.
Additionally, Ricciardo’s presence as a reserve driver adds depth to Red Bull’s driver lineup. The team already boasts a formidable duo in Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, but having Ricciardo as a reserve driver ensures they have a highly capable replacement available if circumstances demand it. His familiarity with the team, combined with his speed and racecraft, make him an ideal candidate to step in and deliver strong performances when needed. This duty could well be required sooner rather than later.
Ricciardo’s ‘mojo’ is back at Red Bull
Ricciardo’s return obviously opens up the possibility of a future race seat with Red Bull Racing. Although there are no immediate vacancies, circumstances in Formula 1 can change rapidly. By aligning himself with the team once again, Ricciardo positions himself as a prime candidate should an opportunity arise. Red Bull has a history of promoting talent from within their program, and Ricciardo’s previous success with the team makes him a compelling choice for a potential race seat in the future.
Beyond the strategic implications, Ricciardo’s return to Red Bull Racing carries emotional resonance. It marks a reunion between a driver and a team with a shared history of success and camaraderie. The chemistry between Ricciardo and the team during his previous stint was evident in their jubilant celebrations on the podium and their infectious spirit. The prospect of rekindling that synergy has undoubtedly generated excitement among fans.
Indeed this chemistry appears to have rekindled Ricciardo’s lost ‘mojo’ by all accounts from within the factory.
The huge rumour from within Red Bull
Now here’s the part that will interest most Daniel Ricciardo fans across the world. The word from within the Red Bull factory is that Daniel Ricciardo has seriously impressed the Red Bull engineers with his simulator performances. Indeed it appears that the Australian has been very quick straight off the bat, and has been instrumental in the continuing development of the RB19 car for 2023 and beyond.
Not only that, but the desire to race again has come to the forefront for the likeable Aussie. The team has since put in place an ‘evaluation’ test for Ricciardo, to see if his impressive simulator performances translate to the real world.
Perez in danger of a mid-season switch to Ricciardo?
In an interview with ‘ORF,’ the Austrian news outlet, Helmut Marko revealed that Daniel Ricciardo would undergo three days of testing with Red Bull following the Silverstone race as part of a tire test organized by Pirelli.
Marko emphasized the importance of this test, stating, “It will allow us to assess where Ricciardo truly stands.”
Marko had previously hinted at the team’s focus on Max Verstappen after the Canadian qualifying session, stating, “We have only one Max.”
Now, when discussing Sergio Perez, Marko’s comments suggest the possibility of a potential departure, saying, “His initial goal was two or three years, which would be longer than he initially planned. However, we must keep our options open for a successor.”
In essence, then, Perez has two races, Spielberg and Silverstone, to demonstrate improvement before the Pirelli test.
Marko talks about Daniel Ricciardo’s evaluation test
Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s motorsport advisor, has responded to rumours suggesting that Australian Daniel Ricciardo will replace Sergio Perez at Red Bull next year, or even mid-season this year. The fact is that the Mexican has been going through a complicated period in his career for several races now.
Since the Monaco Grand Prix, Sergio Perez has made a series of mistakes and failed to perform well in qualifying on Saturday, which has had an impact on his race results on Sunday in Monaco, Spain and more recently in Canada.
While he was only a few points behind his team-mate in the world championship prior to the Monaco GP, Perez has gradually seen the gap with Max Verstappen widen to such an extent that prior to this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix he was 69 points behind the Dutchman, who is firmly entrenched at the top of the 2023 world championship.
No more mistakes for Perez
Sergio Perez knows that he can no longer afford to make the slightest mistake if he wants to keep his chances of fighting for a first world title alive, but his lack of performance in recent races puts him in an uncomfortable position, especially as the team’s reserve driver, Daniel Ricciardo, is still looking for a seat for 2024 or before.
Red Bull understand that currently the team can ‘get away’ with Perez underperforming in the best car of the grid whilst the RB19 continues to dominate the field. But the Milton Keynes team knows that others are catching up fast, and the second driver must be able to deliver podium finishes regularly if it is to continue to win the constructors championship.
Marko downplays Ricciardo replacing Perez rumours
Asked about all the rumours that have been circulating in recent weeks about a possible replacement for Perez by Ricciardo next year, Helmut Marko was keen to set the record straight.
“A lot of things have been taken out of context. Daniel Ricciardo will be testing, yes, but that has very little to do with sport,” Helmut Marko told Kleine Zeitung.
“Sergio Perez has had some very good races and some very bad ones. He just needs to concentrate again and give his best, but he doesn’t need to start dreaming of a world title.”
“On the positive side, he’s the first to have done the last two seasons alongside Max [Verstappen].”
Officially, then, Daniel Ricciardo will not be assessed by Red Bull during this test at Silverstone, even though the main interested party has already made it known that he would like to end his career with a top-level team, and more precisely with Red Bull.
The speculation continues.