Red Bull will boast a stunning array of talent in their ranks in 2023, as driver pairing Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez will be supported by the return of Daniel Ricciardo, who will serve as the team’s third driver.
The Australian has lost his way in recent seasons, as failed spells with Renault and McLaren has seen Ricciardo lose some of the charm and humour that he became so famous for.
The 33-year-old has explained that following his release from McLaren, where he will be replaced by Oscar Piastri, he felt that he needed to take some time away from the racetrack and find himself again.
A return home to Red Bull was confirmed earlier this month, where Ricciardo will serve as the team’s third driver to take part in simulator work and promotional events while he hunts for a return to the grid in 2024.
While Ricciardo will not be attending every race weekend on the calendar next season, he has confirmed that his first appearance back at Red Bull will most likely come at his home Grand Prix.
“I would likely say Melbourne would probably be my first one,” said the Australian.
“I’ve got to check the calendar, but I’m pretty sure Melbourne would make sense, and any excuse to get back to Aus!”
Rumours have suggested that Ricciardo’s future at Red Bull could involve more than just simulator testing, as it has been suggested that the Australian could take Sergio Perez’s race seat midway through the season.
Perez and Verstappen’s relationship in currently tense following the Dutchman’s refusal to help out his teammate towards the latter end of the 2022 season, reportedly in reply to the Mexican’s antics at the Monaco Grand Prix.
While team principal Christian Horner has shut down these claims, Ricciardo has been very cryptic when asked about the chance of a return to Verstappen’s side.
“It’s not… in terms of it’s not there written. It’s not like, ‘Olay, if you’re doing really well on the sim, we’re going to promote you to a race seat’,” he said.
With Ricciardo breathing down his neck in the hunt for a return to the grid, Perez will already be sweating over his long-term future at Red Bull and this will not be helped by the calls from Sky Sport’s pundits for the team to replace the 32-year-old with McLaren’s Lando Norris.
Perez has expressed his confidence in his ability to challenge his teammate for the title in 2023, but will be cautious about keeping his team happy, with so many drivers waiting in the wings for a shot at a Red Bull race seat.