Christian Horner comments on Daniel Ricciardo’s F1 return

Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo is absent from the grid for the first time since 2011 after his departure from McLaren left him without a race seat.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has confidently backed Daniel Ricciardo for a return to the Formula 1 grid as soon as a seat opens up.

Ricciardo is seeing out 2023 as a reserve driver for his old team Red Bull after he failed to find a seat following his early exit from McLaren.

The Australian made his first appearance in the Formula 1 paddock since his contract at the Papaya outfit ended at his home grand prix in Melbourne.

The 33-year-old seemed a more relaxed and at ease figure but eager to return to the wheel-to-wheel action he’s been part of for over a decade.

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“I’d say he’s about 10 minutes away from being ready,” Horner said during a press conference at the Australian Grand Prix.  

“He’s in good shape. He’s kept himself fit and well.”

Sitting alongside McLaren Racing’s CEO Zak Brown, Horner couldn’t resist a dig at Ricciardo’s former boss, joking “We’ve had to feed him up a bit. I don’t know what you guys did to him!”

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“He came back looking a bit skinny, but he’s looking healthier now. I think that he’s training hard and he’s ready to go given the chance.”

While Red Bull is riding high this season, having won three races out of three, it’s unlikely Ricciardo will be back in a race seat alongside Max Verstappen anytime soon, as Sergio Perez is contracted to partner the Dutchman until, at least, 2024.

Ricciardo’s salary demands were apparently part of the challenge for him finding a new seat on the grid this year, as, while Haas had a spot and were interested, team principal Guenther Steiner wasn’t willing to pay $10 million per year for his services.