Daniel Ricciardo targets Checo Perez: Returning to Red Bull remains end goal

Despite eyeing a seat at Red Bull, Ricciardo remains determined to bring the RB to the front of the F1 grid in 2024.

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Embarking on his first full season with newly renamed RB, Daniel Ricciardo is now firmly re-embedded in the Red Bull family. Though the Australian finds himself driving for Red Bull’s sister team, and has his sights set on a spot driving for the current Constructors’ Champions. 

Having shared in December that Red Bull would be the perfect place to end his Formula 1 career, Ricciardo has since doubled down on this goal, with Sergio Perez‘s contract expiring at the end of the 2024 F1 season.

Given Red Bull’s Perez struggled throughout the 2023 season, Ricciardo’s name has been floated as a potential replacement once the Mexican’s contract comes to an end in 2025. 

“I think it’s kind of the big picture,” Ricciardo told the press during pre-season testing in Bahrain, when asked about re-joining Red Bull.

A drive at Red Bull would be a homecoming for Ricciardo, who raced for the team for five seasons between 2014 and 2018. Those Red Bull years were the most successful of Ricciardo’s career to date, with a win at Monaco in 2018 serving as a particular highlight. 

However, while a return to Red Bull remains Ricciardo’s ultimate goal, its not the RB driver’s immediate priority. 

“Sitting here now at the start of a new season, it’s not something on my mind with respect to where I currently am as well. There’s a long season ahead,” added Ricciardo.

“I think the way to get back to the front of the grid is to hustle this car as hard as possible and produce weekends like Mexico, and obviously do that more consistently.”

The Mexico Grand Prix saw Ricciardo secure the team’s highest points-finish of the 2023 season, after qualifying fourth and crossing the line in seventh. It was Ricciardo’s strongest performance across his brief 2023 season, and only his second race since recovering from a broken wrist.

Sergio Perez of Red Bull and Daniel Ricciardo of Visa Cash App RB at Day 1 press conference of F1 2024 Testing | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Ricciardo now looks ahead to a hopefully undisrupted 2024, seeking a return to form. 

“I’m fully focused on where I’m at and trying to just establish myself again,” said Ricciardo

“I feel like I started to do that a little bit last year coming back into the sport. I feel like there’s a lot of races this year to try and do that, and prove it to myself and the others around me.”

Starting strong in 2024

Though the first day of testing is too soon to draw conclusions, RB – and Ricciardo in particular – enjoyed an impressive start to the proceedings. Ricciardo finished the day fourth fastest overall, behind Max Verstappen, Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz, having completed 51 laps.

“I know some people are quite excited about us coming into the season, but I want to play a little bit cautious because look, we have a decent car, but we still have a lot of work to do,” explained Ricciardo.  

“I think for sure, the long term and big picture is to be fighting at the front of the midfield. I’m not sure that we start the season there.”

Despite this reasoned approach to the first day of testing, Ricciardo shared that there are positives to be taken away from his time on track.

“I know it’s just Day 1, but there’s definitely still some cars that are faster than us, not only the Red Bull but I think there’s a couple others,” said Ricciardo.

“There’s still some things to find, but the general feel and balance is actually okay. So now it’s just finding a bit more laptime.”

Jasmine Hughes
Experienced in digital content creation, Jasmine Hughes has written for a number of online publications, joining Total Motorsport in 2024. She previously served as FormulaNerds' Formula E Editor, leading coverage of the 2023 Formula E season. She has been watching Formula 1 since the age of 4, after falling in love with Fernando Alonso's blue-yellow Renault R25.
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