Huge blow for Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo’s return to Red Bull as a reserve driver does not mean he is ready to get back behind the wheel for racing, according to Christian Horner, team principal of Red Bull Racing.

After leaving the team in 2018, Ricciardo returned to Red Bull at the end of last season as a reserve driver. While he is expected to participate in single-seater tyre tests, and this was touted as a means to ‘evaluate’ the Australian driver, it seems the excitement of a possible return to a race seat needs to be tempered according to Red Bull bosses.



Prodigal son returns

Certainly, Horner expressed his delight at having Daniel Ricciardo back in the team back in May, describing the Australian driver as someone who brings a positive energy and lightens the mood when he enters the room.

Ricciardo returned to Red Bull before the start of the season following a challenging two-year period at McLaren, where he struggled to find his footing alongside Lando Norris.

According to Horner, Ricciardo’s smile has returned, and he exudes a renewed sense of positivity. The team boss emphasizes the impact Ricciardo has on the team’s atmosphere, stating that his presence brightens the mood. Horner acknowledges the significant progress that Ricciardo has made and believes that the driver has returned to his best form.

With Ricciardo’s positive energy and improved mindset, Red Bull looks forward to benefiting from his contributions on and off the track. As the season progresses, Ricciardo’s presence within the team is expected to have a positive influence says Horner.



A different Daniel Ricciardo than before?

The key question now revolves around Daniel Ricciardo’s mental state following his challenging stint at McLaren. In the 2022 season, Ricciardo secured 37 points compared to his teammate Lando Norris, who accumulated 122 points. Norris also outperformed Ricciardo in 2021, amassing 160 points to Ricciardo’s 115.

Christian Horner, team principal of Red Bull Racing, acknowledges that Ricciardo exhibited some qualities upon his return that were not reminiscent of the driver who left the team previously. However, Horner believes Ricciardo had an opportunity to regroup during the winter break.

However, Horner has recently made it clear that the Australian driver is not yet prepared to resume racing.

Having left Red Bull with seven Grand Prix victories, Ricciardo had stints with Renault and McLaren, with varying levels of success. Despite his talent, Horner believes it is too early to consider Ricciardo for a race seat next season.


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Horners comment: Big blow for Ricciardo?

“It’s still very early for next year,” Horner stated, a comment that would be no doubt a big blow for Danny Ric fans.

Since his return to Milton Keynes, the 34-year-old driver is said to have changed significantly since 2018. “When he first arrived after Abu Dhabi last year, it was a bit of a shock because we didn’t really recognise him from the driver who had left us a few years earlier,” the Austrian team boss explained to the media.

“He’s really pushing himself, attending all the sessions and working hard in the simulator. There he provides support on the race weekend and also pushes the development,” praised Horner. “It’s only positive for us to have him in the team, supporting the drivers and the technicians.”


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Crucial work for Red Bull

During race weekends, Ricciardo has been actively working on the team’s simulator, gaining valuable experience and providing crucial feedback to support their performance.

“He’s put in some pretty decent mileage. Most of the races he hasn’t participated in, he’s been back at the factory supporting the simulation. He has fully immersed himself and provided us with very valuable feedback,” commented Horner.


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However, Ricciardo will have the opportunity to return to the driver’s seat for Pirelli tyre tests in Great Britain. Horner confirmed that Ricciardo is contracted for the year and will drive for the team after the British Grand Prix.

“He’s obviously a world-class driver,” Horner acknowledged. The team principal also stated that Ricciardo’s performance and motivation during the tests will play a significant role in determining any future opportunities, potentially including a seat at sister team AlphaTauri.

“He’s worked hard on the simulator, and he’s now extremely competitive in the virtual world. So, if he performs well in the real world, we’ll see, but it will be in a tyre test. We’ll get a sense of his performance level,” Horner enthused, reflecting on his long tenure with the team since 2005.

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