Daniel Ricciardo has shared his reaction to the phone call from Red Bull Motorsport advisor Helmut Marko, offering him a return to Formula 1 with AlphaTauri.
The Australian driver was left without a seat after being dropped by McLaren at the end of a disappointing two-year period. However, Red Bull came calling and Ricciardo has now taken over from Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri.
While Daniel Ricciardo was in the wings as reserve driver for Red Bull Racing, being an eight-time Grand Prix winner, the team couldn’t be sure if he had resolved the ‘mojo’ problems he faced during his time with McLaren.
Therefore, Ricciardo needed a proper benchmarking test before he could return alongside Max in the Big Bull team as confidence in Sergio Perez is currently rock bottom.
Red Bull is fully aware that it is nearly impossible for them to fail in either of this season’s F1 championships, regardless of the recent struggles faced by Sergio Perez. But this will change in the coming seasons.
Perez performances were the catalyst
After Perez’s disappointing recent performance in the qualifying session, where he failed to advance beyond Q1, Max Verstappen expressed his confusion, stating, “With our car, you should be in Q3, so I don’t know why something went wrong with him today.”
When questioned about Red Bull’s perspective on the Perez situation, Verstappen redirected the inquiry to Helmut Marko or Christian Horner, suggesting they would be better suited to provide insight.
Helmut Marko had anticipated that the Pirelli tests of that week would serve as an opportunity for the team to “evaluate” Ricciardo’s progress. Christian Horner claimed that Ricciardo had shown signs of significant improvements in the simulator, but that alone wasn’t enough to determine if he could deliver on track. Ricciardo needs proper seat time.
And thus, the ball was set in motion to prepare Ricciardo for a race seat as fast as possible.
First pole and first win in one weekend 💫🏆💪
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Ricciardo gets a call from Marko
Ricciardo revealed that upon receiving the call from Marko, he thought, “OK, let’s just hear what he has to say.” He expressed that being back in the Red Bull family and experiencing such moments again made it an easy decision for him to say yes.
“That’s probably the best thing because sometimes you try to prepare yourself for ‘what if he asks me this.” recounts Ricciardo,
“I didn’t really have to think about it. Being back in that family, I feel like I’m kind of going through it all again – these are the calls I used to get and these are the moments they used to throw at us,
“There was no question that I was going to say yes, it was just the reality of ‘ok, it’s going to happen pretty soon’.
Ricciardo says he’s ready
Ricciardo’s readiness for an F1 comeback was confirmed through his simulator work and participation in the post-British Grand Prix Pirelli tyre test.
The Australian driver had experienced a decline in his passion for the sport during his final days with McLaren, but he emphasized that rejoining Red Bull has helped rekindle his love for Formula 1. Ricciardo admitted that falling out of love with the sport had affected his confidence, but returning to Red Bull and feeling like his old self again in the simulator sessions brought back his enjoyment and enthusiasm.
“When that starts to diminish a little bit, then the enjoyment starts to diminish. There were a lot of factors, “ says Ricciardo,
“Going back to Red Bull, the reception I had coming back into the team was overwhelming in a positive way.
“Getting back into the sim, I was a bit unsure how it would go, if the car would feel like it used to, if I would be ‘like the old me’.
“Once I did a few sim sessions and started to feel like myself again, it brought me back to normal Daniel, falling in love again and ready to go.”
Feeling like his old self and regaining his confidence, the Australian driver is excited and ready to get back on track and make his mark again.