Daniel Ricciardo makes surprising admission about returning to Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo impressed Red Bull with his work in the simulator following his return to the team in January as their development driver.

Daniel Ricciardo has recently recalled his return to Red Bull at the start of the year, initially as their development driver following his premature exit from McLaren.

Ricciardo was contracted to McLaren until the end of 2024; however, the Woking-based team terminated his contract in order to sign Oscar Piastri from Alpine.

Red Bull quickly snapped up Ricciardo’s services for their behind-the-scenes role, which included an array of simulator and marketing work.

Ricciardo was keen to take some time away from racing, making the role at Red Bull perfect for him.

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The 34-year-old was very successful during his five-year stint racing for the team from 2014-2018, with him having claimed seven wins in that period.

Despite this, he was “apprehensive” about returning to Milton Keynes following his McLaren departure, as he knew that his “confidence had been knocked” by his poor performances during mostly 2022.

“I was a little bit apprehensive,” Ricciardo said on Red Bull’s Talking Bull podcast. “My confidence had been knocked about the last 12 or 18 months.

“When you’re trying to be the best in the world at something, for sure you’re going to have ups and downs — some days you’re going to think you’re invincible and other days you won’t.

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“I think there was just a bit of a consistency [during] the last little bit where I no longer felt invincible or awesome.”

Working with Ricciardo initially was his former race engineer Simon Rennie, who is now Red Bull’s simulation engineering group leader.

This worked well for the fan favourite given that he was working so closely with a familiar face, who actually didn’t recognise Ricciardo at first because of how low on confidence he was.

“I don’t think that was as easy as you thought it was going to be,” Rennie also said on the podcast. “When he first came back I was quite surprised, knowing Daniel, how he was.

“I didn’t say this to you at the time.

“You were definitely not as confident as I know you are, and you were just a little bit hollow in a way, and it felt like you were doubting yourself a little bit and you were a bit concerned about whether you could do it again.

“It didn’t necessarily click straight away in the simulator.

“That first day that we did together, I don’t know if you left with a good feeling or not after that first day. You still seemed a little bit unsure of it all.”

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Ricciardo refound his confidence quickly and soon started to impress Red Bull, to the point where they replaced Nyck de Vries with him at AlphaTauri.

However, the eight-time race winner is now back on the sidelines after fracturing his left hand, following a crash during Free Practice 2 at the Dutch Grand Prix.

His expected return date is the Qatar Grand Prix in October.