Daniel Ricciardo looks set to be more than just a development driver at Red Bull next season, with team principal Christian Horner having revealed that the Australian will be the side’s reserve driver when Liam Lawson is unavailable.
Lawson will be competing in Japan in 2023 in the highly competitive Super Formula Championship, so will understandably be unable to serve his role as Red Bull reserve driver when a race in Japan clashes with an F1 weekend.
On those occasions, Ricciardo will take the role of reserve driver himself, meaning he’ll replace either Max Verstappen or Sergio Pérez should they be unable to drive.
Horner revealed Ricciardo’s additional role for next season whilst explaining what he’ll be doing as their development driver, with the Aussie set to be a busy man in 2023.
“Daniel will be attending some races where, obviously, he will be our reserve driver for those events,” Horner told SpeedCafe.
“[Daniel will] probably do a bit of tyre testing for us, not with the Pirelli programme that gets distributed around the teams.
“He’ll be doing some work in the simulator.
“So he’ll be doing all of those activities and then, of course, with the commercial demands that we have from the myriad of sponsors and partners that we have, particularly with a much bigger presence in the US where Daniel is now predominantly based, with three Grands Prix there next year, he’s gonna have a busy agenda for the season ahead.”
Throughout his F1 career, Red Bull is the environment where Ricciardo has performed the best, with his form having dropped considerably whilst at Renault and McLaren.
Horner was surprised to see his former driver “on the overall market” and is hopeful that he’ll “rediscover his passion” whilst working for the Austrians once again.
“Well, we were surprised to see Daniel be out on the overall market,” he added.
“So for us, having grown up with Red Bull, having nurtured him since being a junior, it made sense for us to bring him back into the fold.
“[He’s a driver] with so much experience, at such a high profile, I think Daniel had fallen out of love a little bit with Formula 1. He’s had a couple of really tough seasons, particularly this year. For him to play a supporting role to the race drivers as our third driver, both here in the factory and at events with all commercial partners we have as one of the most recognisable faces currently in F1, for us – it made a lot of sense.
“Hopefully, in that process, Daniel will rediscover his passion for Formula 1, but we certainly have no plans to utilise him other than in that third driver role, combined with the commercial activities that he’ll be performing.”