Helmut Marko took part in a strange interview following free practice in Abu Dhabi, with the Austrian first claiming that Daniel Ricciardo will be Red Bull’s third driver for 2023, before seemingly backtracking and suggesting that the deal was not yet done.
Ricciardo himself has addressed the Red Bull chief advisor’s comments, telling reporters that he genuinely has no news to share other than that he hopes something will be officially signed in the coming days.
The Australian has not had the career that he would have hoped for at Renault and McLaren after making the bold decision to leave Red Bull, feeling that the team were beginning to prioritise a young Max Verstappen.
McLaren will be replacing Ricciardo with his younger countryman Oscar Piastri for 2023, with the 33-year-old’s performances being some way off those of his teammate Lando Norris during their two year spell together.
This has led the Australian to hunt for a reserve driver role for next year, as he claims that he prefers to take a year away from the grid if it helps him secure a 2024 race seat at a competitive team, rather than joining a weaker team such as Haas for 2023.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was asked about Marko’s comments this weekend, and put the premature announcement from his colleague down to overenthusiasm.
“We haven’t signed anything yet, but Helmut in his enthusiasm has obviously announced it,” confirmed Horner.
“So I guess that means Daniel will be joining us unless of course he chooses not to sign it.
“It means that he keeps in touch with Formula 1 and we’ll obviously be using him on the simulator and he’ll potentially be attending some events. Of course, that’s if he does sign the contract but I’m sure that it will become clear in the event of him signing a contract.”
Ricciardo impressively made it to Q3 in Abu Dhabi, where he qualified in P10, however a three-place grid penalty will be applied to the Australian on his final race for McLaren, after he collided with Kevin Magnussen on the opening lap of the Brazilian Grand Prix, taking both drivers out of the race.