Ricciardo returns to Red Bull: rumors grow

(Motorsport-Total.com) – The rumors are getting stronger: Daniel Ricciardo is said to be about to return to the Red Bull family. Not as a racing driver, but only as a test and reserve driver. But especially in the Austrian media, unification is already being talked about as if it had already been decided.

The contact between Christian Horner and Daniel Ricciardo was never completely broken


Maybe he is too. It’s quite possible that behind the scenes Ricciardo and Helmut Marko will agree on 2023. But nothing is signed, at least that’s what the Australians swear.

“Nothing is sealed. I have nothing to hide, I am not contractually bound and I can talk about everything freely. But nothing is signed. As soon as it is, I will say it. I am not holding anything back,” Ricciardo assured from Sao Paulo Saturday evening.

Marko made a similar statement in an interview with ‘Sky’: “We are talking,” he admits. But when asked that talks are said to be very advanced, he simply says: “We’re talking. I can only repeat myself.”

Red Bull’s perspective better than Mercedes’

Ricciardo has recently had several options to become the third driver in a Formula 1 team. Mercedes is in the hunt after losing Nyck de Vries (with AlphaTauri) and Stoffel Vandoorne (with Aston Martin). But the Silver Arrows will not have a free cockpit anytime soon. George Russell is at the start of his time at Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton wants to extend it.

Sergio Perez is also under contract with Red Bull until 2024, but with Pierre Gasly’s move to Alpine, there is currently no candidate in the driver’s squad who is established enough to be considered for the A-Team. If Ricciardo convinces on the simulator and in tests, Perez could at least offer him a real chance.

McLaren replacement driver via loan deal in 2023?

In addition, his McLaren team has no plans to sign its own replacement drivers, but is instead pursuing loan deals with other racing teams. The Mercedes deal could continue and if Ricciardo, who knows McLaren well, lands at Red Bull, a loan deal between McLaren and Red Bull is also possible.

There is no scorched earth between McLaren and Ricciardo, assures team principal Andreas Seidl, explaining: “If there was an opportunity to work with Daniel again, then at least from our point of view there would be no objection. And I’m sure Daniel sees it the same way.” In that regard, Seidl said a lease would “certainly be a potential scenario.”

Should Lando Norris or Oscar Piastri get injured, nothing could be better for McLaren than to have access to a man in Ricciardo who knows the team inside and out. Plus Red Bull would then pay him – right? Seidl cuts back: “It doesn’t work that way. Costs are shared because it makes sense for everyone involved.”

The return of the prodigal son

For Ricciardo, a move to Red Bull would mean the return of his prodigal son to his old family. In the summer of 2018, his Red Bull contract extension seemed almost over when, on a long flight to Los Angeles, it occurred to him that a good-money move to Renault would be a good thing for his career.

Photo gallery: Formula 1 drivers 2023

“I have no regrets,” he says now. “Of course you can say, ‘Oh, away from Red Bull, then two years Renault and two years McLaren.’ I know what it looks like and smells like failure. But at that moment I felt the need to try something new, to move on.”

“I haven’t won a world championship since I left Red Bull. I haven’t won anything in fact. But I’ve learned so much since then and I think it’s made me a better driver. I needed a change of scenery.” Although mine, the results could have been better if I had stayed.”

He watched the highlights of Red Bull’s last season

“I just recently looked at the highlights of the 2018 season,” admits Ricciardo. “I retired eight or nine. It was a brutal season, especially after two wins in the first six races. A terrible year. I was with a great team, but the energy was gone. I remember the feeling again. “

They say, “In times of need, the devil eats flies.” Applied to Ricciardo, this means: Having no better offer, he could return to his old family, to his old mentor Helmut Mark and to Christian Horner. He always defended Ricciardo in interviews, even during McLaren’s most difficult times.

But Ricciardo knows: “There are absolutely no guarantees for 2024. But I believe I can drive in a top team again. I think I could flourish there again. And I just have a strong feeling that everything had a purpose. Everything in life happens happening for a reason.”

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