Current Red Bull Third Driver, Daniel Ricciardo, has talked to reporters and said that he sees himself back behind the wheel after a year out of the sport. After a disappointing two-year spell at McLaren, the Australian decided to take a year out instead of finding a seat at the back of the grid.
This year out was with his former team Red Bull with which he saw great success, establishing himself by winning seven races for the British outfit between 2014-2018. He was always known for his late-braking expertise and quick pace in qualifying but he lost his “spark” after leaving the notoriously competitive team to join Renault in 2018. Daniel saw relatively poor performances in both teams he joined in comparison to Red Bull with a lucky 3rd place finish on a chaotic weekend with Renault and extra lucky 1st place at Monza with Mclaren.
Daniel Ricciardo’s market value was also damaged as he was outperformed by both McLaren teammates Carlos Sainz, who is now racing for Ferrari, and wonderkid Lando Norris who is still with the Woking-based outfit. However this may look, Ricciardo always struggled with both cars as they didn’t suit his driving style. He always commented on the McLaren’s lack of rear stability; a trait that was plentiful in the old Red Bulls he used to drive.
Red Bull Team Boss Horner Said Ricciardo was “Unrecognizable” Before Red Bull Return
Christian Horner had this to say about Ricciardo’s form and mentality after he came back “starved” from Mclaren:
“And it was clear when he came back, that he picked up some habits that were not… that we didn’t recognise as the Daniel that that had left us two or three years earlier.”-Christian Horner
He also had this to say:
“He came back looking a bit skinny but he’s looking healthier now, and I think that he’s training hard and he’s ready to go given the chance.”-Christian Horner
“I’d say it’s about 10 minutes away from being ready. He’s in good shape,” added Horner.
Horner clearly values Ricciardo as an asset to the Red Bull team and claims that the Aussie is now ready for a return to grand prix racing. Does this mean that Ricciardo is a threat to current Red Bull driver Checo Perez?
It wouldn’t be unlikely in my opinion because the team has been known to swap out drivers like crazy when they’re underperforming. An example of this was Alex Albon and Danil Kvyat who were both exed from the team halfway through the season. Although unlikely given Checo’s brilliant performances, you can never count out the wild ideas of Helmut Marko.
Where else could Daniel Ricciardo Rejoin the F1 grid?
Daniel Ricciardo has stated to the press that he wouldn’t join F1 “just for the sake of it” at a team closer to the back of the grid, he said that a “top flight” team is still his priority although I don’t see how it’s possible.
Red Bull seems to be locked in with a clear number 1 and comfortable number 2 driver, Mercedes have talented George Russel and 7-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to drive development. Ferrari have the best two young drivers on the grid in Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. A stint with Aston Martin also seems unlikely because of Fernando Alonso’s brilliant form and Lance Stroll’s position as his father owns the team almost guaranteeing him a seat.
It has even been rumoured that if Max Verstappen or Checo miss a grand prix due to illness or injury, Tsunoda from Alpha Tauri would be called up to drive instead of the Aussie; however, this would be less of a nicety and more of a contract obligation.
I think Daniel’s only choice to make a return to the top of the grid would be to take a team with him in a similar circumstance to Aston Martin this year. Chances of this look bleak but he has been repeatedly linked to Haas, do you think that he will make a return to the grid in 2024?