Christian Horner admits Daniel Ricciardo disaster

Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, has opened up on how they rekindled their relationship with Daniel Ricciardo.

Christian Horner has admitted that Daniel Ricciardo’s first sim test run upon rejoining Red Bull was disastrous.

The Australian driver replaced Nyck de Vries following the British GP.

He was a back-up driver to Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez and now drives for AlphaTauri, Red Bull’s junior outfit.

Ricciardo returned to Red Bull after losing his full-time McLaren spot at the end of an abysmal 2022 campaign.

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However, the lead up to his 2023 return didn’t get off to a glowing start, as revealed by Horner. 

Horner said: “It all kicked off in a hotel room in Mexico last year, I had a meeting with Daniel.

“It was clear that his options for this year were going to be a bit limited and he just looked pretty broken.

“I said to him why didn’t he come back to Red Bull for 12 months… help us with simulation work, a bit of tyre testing, and just come back into the fold and refind his passion for the sport.

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“Because it was clear that he wasn’t enjoying things.

“I didn’t really recognise the Daniel over the last couple of years that we’d grown so used to, he’d grown up with us – so that’s where it started.

“He came in and drove the simulator a couple of days after Abu Dhabi, and it was a complete disaster.

“He’d picked up every bad habit imaginable. He was working with his previous engineer and gradually we unpicked it.”

However, Horner says that things turned around following this initial rough patch.

The Red Bull principal remarked: “With each session, he just got better and better, you could see his confidence growing to the point that he was absolutely on the pace with the race drivers.

“The plan was always to put him in for that Silverstone test. We kept him very busy on off-track activities, marketing-wise, and the test was extremely impressive.”

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It was the Silverstone Pirelli tyre test that sealed Riccardio’s return to Red Bull, with Horner calling Red Bull team advisor Helmut Marko straight after.

Horner commented: “I was just pleased to see that he was still able to operate at that level.

“The old Daniel was still there. And then his long runs were very impressive in the work that he did for Pirelli was absolutely on the money.”