After Helmut Marko confirmed Daniel Ricciardo will be Red Bull‘s third driver in 2023, Christian Horner said the deal wasn’t done yet and Marko had jumped the gun due to ‘enthusiasm’ ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Ricciardo was contracted to McLaren until the end of 2023 but following two awful years at the Woking outfit, he was bought out of that contract and replaced by Oscar Piastri.
Ricciardo reportedly wasn’t too interested in potential seats at Haas and Williams and now it looks like he’ll be returning to Red Bull, the team he won seven races with between 2014 and 2018.
“We haven’t signed anything yet,” Horner told the press, “but Helmut in his enthusiasm has obviously announced it.
“So I guess that means Daniel will be joining us unless of course he chooses not to sign it.
“It means that he keeps in touch with Formula One and we’ll obviously be using him on the simulator and he’ll potentially be attending some events. Of course, that’s if he does sign the contract but I’m sure that it will become clear in the event of him signing a contract.”
So with all that cleared up, at least to mud levels of clarity, Ricciardo enjoyed a good FP3 session in Abu Dhabi ahead of his final qualifying session as a McLaren driver.
But wherever he finishes, he’s carrying a three-place grid penalty after his crash with Kevin Magnussen at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Red Bull history
After impressing for the absolutely dire Hispania Racing Team in the second half of 2010, Ricciardo made his full-season debut with Toro Rosso the next year and quickly caught the eye, scoring points on his first weekend.
He stepped up to Red Bull for 2014 replacing Mark Webber and immediately outperformed Sebastian Vettel, who was coming off the back of four consecutive drivers’ championships with the team.
He became team leader in 2015 but after Verstappen arrived at the team the Dutchman quickly became the focal point of the team and Ricciardo left for Renault at the end of 2018.
Life outside the Red Bull sphere hasn’t been so good to Ricciardo and despite a miraculous win with McLaren in 2021 he’s been largely woeful especially given his reputation arriving at the team.
“Daniel‘s a big character, it’s been disappointing to see his performance this year, I think he would’ve wanted a lot more out of the season,” Horner said.
“But he’s still one of the biggest names, one of the biggest characters in Formula One and he obviously has a history as being a Red Bull junior.”
Red Bull are known for their stunts outside of are weekends, having done a zero-gravity pitstop, driven on a ski run and scrumaged against a rugby team, to name just a few examples.
“The demands that are on the race drivers these days,” Horner added, “Just from a marketing perspective alone, we’re very active as a team, we do many, many show runs and events.”
“To have a driver of Daniel‘s profile and history with the team within the group is only an asset for us.”