Having spent time as Red Bull’s reserve driver, ‘the Honey Badger’ Daniel Ricciardo, will be hoping to hit the ground running when the lights go out on Sunday. However, Horner has since revealed that a lot of work has gone into getting Ricciardo ready for F1 again as the Red Bull boss blames an individual person for Riccardo’s bad fortune ahead of rejoining the Austrian team from McLaren.
Last year, McLaren’s former team principal, Andreas Seidl, had taken responsibility for Daniel Ricciardo’s struggle to deliver strong results over the past two seasons with the Woking team, leading to the decision to terminate his contract one year early.
McLaren boss takes some blame
Following a “mutual” agreement between the team and Ricciardo, McLaren officially announced his departure at the end of the 2022 Formula 1 season. Seidl acknowledged the challenges faced by Ricciardo in extracting the same level of performance from the car as his teammate Lando Norris.
Ricciardo had openly discussed feeling uncomfortable in the McLaren car, especially when pushing it to its limits, resulting in a performance gap compared to Norris. Seidl highlighted that Norris, an outstanding driver, added to the difficulty Ricciardo faced.
Extracting the best out of Ricciardo was ‘a collaborative effort’
The team principal emphasized that extracting performance from the car is a collaborative effort between the driver and the team. He took full responsibility for McLaren’s failure to unlock Ricciardo’s full potential and find the right setup that would consistently yield competitive lap times.
Seidl clarified that the decision to part ways with Ricciardo was the result of these challenges and the inability to find the “magic” formula to close the performance gap.
The rest as they say is history. Ricciardo departed and rejoined Red Bull Racing as their reserve driver for the 2023 F1 season.
Horner singles out an individual for Ricciardo downfall
In a surprising revelation, Christian Horner, the Team Principal of Red Bull Racing, has attributed Daniel Ricciardo’s recent struggles to his time working with an F1 race engineer during his hiatus from the team.
Ricciardo is set to return to Formula 1 at the upcoming Hungarian Grand Prix, taking the place of Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri, but ahead of this, the Australian had been thoroughly assessed for the suitability of returning to a race seat.
Bad habits from a previous race engineer
In a recent F1 Nation podcast, Horner expressed his surprise at the changes he observed in Ricciardo over the past few years, stating, “I didn’t really recognise the Daniel over the last couple of years that we’d got so used to, that had grown up with us.”
The Red Bull boss went on to reveal that Ricciardo struggled during his initial simulator sessions after his departure from Red Bull due to the habits he had picked up while working with a previous engineer. However, Horner highlighted that the team has been working diligently to help Ricciardo regain his form.
Horner disclosed that a significant amount of effort has been put into preparing Ricciardo for his F1 comeback. He was critical of some of the habits Ricciardo picked up during his time with Renault and McLaren after leaving Red Bull in 2018.
The Red Bull boss was present during the post-British Grand Prix test at Silverstone, where he closely observed Ricciardo’s performance. Despite having not driven an F1 car for seven months, Ricciardo quickly adapted and showcased impressive pace, even coming close to achieving a front-row grid position on his first proper run.
The Red Bull Team Principal was visibly pleased with Ricciardo’s progress, stating, “It was very impressive. I was just pleased to see that he was still able to operate at that level.”
Horner also revealed that discussions about a potential move to AlphaTauri had taken place with Ricciardo before the test. Ricciardo expressed his willingness to take on the challenge, showing his determination to make a strong comeback in Formula 1.
Red Bull seat for Ricciardo?
There have been rumours circulating that Ricciardo could potentially make a shocking return to Red Bull as a replacement for Sergio Perez, whose performance has been less than stellar. However, this will likely depend on how Ricciardo performs with AlphaTauri.