Published on 20 Nov 2022 1:38 am (UK Time)
Daniel Ricciardo is set to return to Red Bull as the third driver for the 2023 season. The 33-year-old was left without a place on the grid for the next season after his three-year contract with McLaren was terminated a year early.
Ricciardo is set to return to the team that he had seven Grand Prix wins in his junior career. The Australian spent five seasons with Red Bull from 2014 – 2018, he moved to Renault in 2019 and then joined McLaren in 2021, but due to a lack of results his contract was terminated early and he will be replaced by Oscar Piastri.
On Friday, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko let the news slip that Ricciardo would be in line for a third driver role. Marko told Sky Germany, at Yas Marina, that Ricciardo would be their third driver although Red bull has yet to confirm anything, when asked about Marko’s comments, team boss Christian Horner said: “We haven’t signed anything yet, but Helmut in his enthusiasm has obviously announced it. I guess that means that Daniel will be joining us unless he chooses not to sign it.”
Horner said that Ricciardo is a big character and that it’s been disappointing to see his performance this year, however, “He’s still one of the biggest names, one of the biggest characters in Formula One.”
Ricciardo has made it clear that he wants to return to racing in 2024 if possible, but Horner downplayed the idea of Ricciardo returning to a racing seat at Red Bull, he said: “Daniel’s contract is very specific, for a specific reason. We have a contract with Checo for the next two years”
“What the partnership of Max and Checo has produced has been phenomenal for us. The five 1-2 finished so far this year, the constructors’ championship that we hadn’t won for eight years is a phenomenal achievement.
“The two drivers, they do have a good relationship, they’ve raced well for the team, and we’ve got no reason to see that being any different tomorrow, or for the duration of their contractual commitment to the team thereafter.”
Ricciardo’s role is will include simulator work, demonstration car runs, being a backup for Max Verstappen and Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez, and commercial obligations. Marko said: “We have so many sponsors, we have to do show runs and the like, so of course, he’s one of the most high-profile and best-suited.”
There has been speculation that Red Bull’s junior driver Liam Lawson is expected to be a reserve driver for the 2023 season but it remains unclear if this role will be shared with Ricciardo, the full details of the contract with be revealed within the next few days.