‘Maybe I’ve got old!’ Daniel Ricciardo jokes about Red Bull concern

Following his release from McLaren, Daniel Ricciardo will spend a year serving as Red Bull’s third driver as he attempts to re-join the grid in 2024

Daniel Ricciardo has been the life and soul of the paddock since he burst onto the scene with Toro Rosso over a decade ago.

The always joking and always smiling Australian has become a fan favourite for his infectious laugh and positivity, seeing the bright side of almost everything F1 has to offer. 

This shine has sadly begun to disappear since the 33-year-old’s move away from Red Bull in 2019 however, as spells with Renault and McLaren have not worked out the way Ricciardo would have wanted.

After finishing 85 points behind his teammate Lando Norris in 2022, Ricciardo will be replaced at McLaren by rookie Oscar Piastri for next season, while the eight-time Grand Prix winner returns to Red Bull to serve as a third driver while he waits for a race seat to open up for him at a top team.

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Ricciardo has often seemed dejected and low on confidence in 2022 and the Australian hopes that time in the Red Bull simulator will help him get back to his fun-loving and confident best.

“Going back to Red Bull, I think there is, of course, an element of me which is curious in terms of just jumping on the sim and seeing how I do, even just for myself,” said the 33-year-old.

“[It is] a car that, of course, it’s changed in the last four years, but [it is] a car that obviously I knew well [and] had a lot of success with.

“[I’m curious to see] if it just kind of brings it all back and I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, this gels. This is me’.

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“Obviously if I’m there on lap times on the sim, I think that would give me the confidence that then I could obviously replicate it on track. But if I’m a second off on the sim, then maybe I’ve got old!”

There have been suggestions that should Ricciardo impress in the simulator and Sergio Perez fails to fix his relationship with Max Verstappen, the Australian could replace the 32-year-old midway through next season, as Red Bull hunt to retain the constructors’ championship.

Christian Horner has been quick to reiterate his team’s faith in Perez, however F1 is a brutal sport and stranger things have certainly happened, so the Mexican will have to keep his performance levels high if he wants to keep his seat with Ricciardo breathing down his neck.