Helmut Marko denies Sergio Perez theory amid Daniel Ricciardo signing

Following his release from McLaren, Daniel Ricciardo will return to Red Bull in 2023 to serve as the team’s third driver.

When it was announced that Oscar Piastri would be replacing Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren in 2023, fans were left wondering where the older Australian would end up.

Moves to Haas or Williams looked to be on the cars, but with the 33-year-old wanting to race at the front of the grid rather than nearer the back, Ricciardo declined advances from either team.

In an attempt to keep his name relevant in F1 while he waits for an opportunity to open up at a big team in the future, Ricciardo has returned to Red Bull to serve as the team’s third driver for 2023, taking part in promotional activities and simulator work for his former employers.

It has been rumoured that should Sergio Perez not perform to the required standard in 2023 or fix his tense relationship with Max Verstappen, Ricciardo is waiting in the wings to replace the Mexican midway through the season.

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Team principal Christian Horner has been quick to reassure Perez that this is not the intention behind Ricciardo’s return to the team, and Helmut Marko has now echoed Horner’s thoughts on the matter.

“Sergio Perez has shown us that he can ride at a very high level,” said the team’s chief advisor.

“If Max is never there, Sergio will be. He won two races this year for a reason.”

The Austrian has confirmed that Ricciardo will be the team’s first choice to step into the RB-19 is one of their drivers is unable to take part in a race weekend, however this does not mean he is in line for a race seat.

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“This is also important, and if he has to replace one of our drivers he will,” said Marko.

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“Then we will have a driver who we know will take the car to the finish line. But I repeat, it’s not that we want to put pressure on Sergio on this.”

Perez has claimed that after two years with Red Bull he finally feels capable of challenging his teammate for the title in 2023, having served as Verstappen’s wingman since his arrival in 2021.

Marko has been quick to reject Perez’s claims however, suggesting that only Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc have the required talent to beat Verstappen, also claiming that any teammate of the Dutchman should accept playing second fiddle.