Daniel Ricciardo took a massive gamble ahead of the 2019 season, as the Australian opted to ditch the comfortability of Red Bull in favour of a fresh challenge at Renault.
The 33-year-old had become frustrated with Red Bull’s decision to favour a young Max Verstappen over him, seeing his championship hopes dwindle.
A two-year stay at Renault did not yield the success that Ricciardo hoped that it would have and he made yet another move, this time to McLaren.
The Australian struggled to ever get going with the Woking-based team however, winning a race in Monza but being comfortably beaten by his teammate Lando Norris the rest of the time.
McLaren decided to make a change for 2023, bringing in rookie Oscar Piastri to replace Ricciardo, leaving the eight-time race winner without a race seat.
Red Bull have now brought Ricciardo back home to serve as the team’s third driver, where he will attend promotional events and complete simulator work on his journey to return to the grid in 2024.
Former F1 driver David Coulthard has now given his take on Ricciardo’s chances of ever returning to race in Formula 1, claiming that the Australian will face a huge mental challenge this year.
“Daniel, not being where we knew he could be – he just didn’t look like Daniel of old so this is about him trying to rebuild,” said Coulthard.
“He has a great legacy with Red Bull and he left to go off and try and make it big elsewhere, that didn’t work so he has come back to the family.
“If he can get his mind back to what it was when he was having success, then Daniel has to have an opportunity to come back. If this opportunity doesn’t manifest itself then that’s probably his Grand Prix career wrapped up.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has been quick to shut down rumours that Ricciardo could replace Sergio Perez midway through next season, should the Mexican fail to impress.
The Red Bull boss has said that Ricciardo’s contract is very specific and that the team will honour their agreement with Perez, as his partnership with Verstappen has proved formidable over the past two seasons.