Following on from two challenging years at McLaren, both physically and mentally, Daniel Ricciardo has opened up on how it feels to return “home” to Red Bull after four years away.
Leaving Red Bull for Renault at the end of 2018 was always a huge gamble by the 33-year-old, who was walking away from a frontrunning team and entering one cemented in the midfield but with big dreams.
It’s safe to say that his gamble hasn’t paid off, with his time at both Renault and McLaren having ended up being completely underwhelming.
The undeniable highlight of his last four years is, of course, his victory for McLaren at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, one which ended the Woking-based side’s torrid winless streak which dated back to 2012.
Given the difficulties he’s faced, the driver hasn’t been afraid to admit that he needs time away from racing, with Red Bull having been on hand to offer the Honey Badger a job where he can do just that.
His move back to the Austrians as a development driver, will see him undertake testing, simulator work and a large amount of marketing work, something which will likely suit the Aussie to a tee.
Most importantly, though, Ricciardo is returning to an atmosphere that for the majority of the time he was there was a successful one, and one that he thrived in.
Given that he is now older, perhaps the issues that were there four years ago won’t resurface, especially given that he’s not in a racing role.
Ricciardo opened up on his return to Red Bull and how he’s excited to feel the side’s “warmth and love”, something that’ll “feel really nice”.
“There’s something about going back to where it all started,” Ricciardo admitted to Speedcafe.
“There’s certainly a nostalgia to it but, honestly, it’s all hit over the last few years. But it’s even more recently when Mr Mateschitz passed away, just hits how much I have them to thank for [my career].
“I feel like I was always appreciative of the opportunity they gave me, but it really hit home – if it wasn’t for them, I literally wouldn’t be on the grid. So there’s that as well, where it’s like coming back to where it all started, and it is like going home.
“It’s like going home to Mum and Dad, you know. They’re your biggest people that supported your whole career, and you just want to be back in that environment, I guess, and feel that warmth and love.
“I don’t want that to be a headline saying that I haven’t felt that elsewhere, but there’s something about it which I think will feel really nice.”
Reflecting on his two years at McLaren, Ricciardo admits that he might “never know” why the partnership just didn’t click.
It’s because of this that he’s intrigued to see how he’ll get on back at the Austrians, where he’s hoping to get back working on a car that will let the fan favourite “show my strengths”.
“McLaren, in a way, I have to accept it was what it was, and maybe I’ll never know [why it didn’t work],” Ricciardo reasoned.
“That’s why I’m curious to get back into Red Bull, a place where obviously I competed well with Max, and even just get on the sim and get back to a car that I’m like ‘oh yeah, this is a car that allows me to show my strengths.’
“I’m kind of just curious to see how I go back in something which I obviously had a lot of success in.”