Unfortunately for Daniel Ricciardo, his bold decision to leave Red Bull for Renault did not pay off and the Australian has now come full circle and returned to the energy drink giants.
Ricciardo had grown frustrated with the team’s decision to prioritise a young Max Verstappen and was on the hunt for a project elsewhere that would give him the opportunity to win a world championship.
A short spell with Renault did not live up to expectations and the 33-year-old’s move to McLaren was even more disappointing, as he was obliterated by his teammate Lando Norris during both of his seasons with the team.
With Ricciardo claiming that his Formula 1 journey is nowhere near over, fans have begun to wonder what exactly his role back at Red Bull will be, as he aims to keep himself relevant enough to be considered for a future race seat at a top team.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has now explained why the team decided to bring Ricciardo ‘home’ after four seasons away.
“I think Daniel had fallen out of love a little bit with Formula 1. He’d had a couple of really difficult seasons,” Horner told Speedcafe.
“For him to play a supporting role to race drivers as our third driver, both back in the factory and at events, with all the commercial partners we have, as one of the most recognisable faces currently in and around F1, for us, it made a lot of sense. Hopefully in that process, Daniel will rediscover his passion.”
The Red Bull boss has been quick to shut down rumours that Ricciardo’s return to the team could spell bad news for Sergio Perez, as some fans have suggested that the Australian could replace the Mexican midway through the season.
“We certainly have no plans to utilise him other than in that third driver role and to combine with the commercial activities that he will be performing,” he explained.
“Daniel will be attending some races, where he will be our reserve driver for those events. He’ll probably do a bit of tyre testing for us, to help with the Pirelli programme that gets distributed around the teams. He’ll be doing some work in the simulator.”
With every Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes driver tied down to a multi-year contract, it is currently unclear which team Ricciardo is aiming to return to the grid with, after he previously stated that he has no intention to race towards the back of the grid.