- Daniel Ricciardo initially left Red Bull for Renault for 2019, before joining McLaren on a three-year deal in 2021.
- Ricciardo finished a disappointing 12th in the F1 drivers’ standings this year and has been beaten by McLaren.
- The deal with Red Bull will include work on team simulation and promotional work.
Outgoing McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo will spend 2023 as Red Bull Racing’s third Formula 1 driver.
It follows two tumultuous seasons for the Australian, who initially left Red Bull for Renault for 2019, before joining McLaren on a three-year deal in 2021.
The third year of this contract was supposed to cover 2023, but amid the lack of performance, the two parties agreed to a mutual split after 2022.
Ricciardo, 33, seemed reluctant to chase another race, with the main opportunities on the backmarker teams, and focused on a reserve role in the front running back. He’s now reunited with reigning champions Red Bull, who won seven races over a five-year period from 2014 through 2018, having previously been part of the decorated junior programme.
Red Bull Racing has called Ricciardo their third driver, not their reserve driver, and young Liam Lawson, who finished third in the Formula 2 championship standings this year, is expected to take over the position.
However, Ricciardo’s role is more like that of a traditional reserve driver.
Red Bull Racing said in a statement that Ricciardo “will assist the team with testing and sim work, as well as the commercial activity.” Red Bull has signed Sergio Perez until 2024 with Max Verstappen in a deal that runs until 2028.
Speaking during this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal, said: “Daniel is such a big guy, it’s been disappointing to see his performance this year.
“I think he would have wanted a lot off the season, but he’s still one of the biggest names, one of the biggest figures in Formula 1. He obviously has a history of being a Red Bull Junior player, and he has only demands that are on racing drivers these days, just from a marketing perspective.” We’re very active as a team, we do a lot of shows and events and we have a driver for Daniel’s file and his history with the team, within the group is just an asset for us.”
Ricciardo described himself as “really excited to be going home to Red Bull Racing”.
“For me, being able to contribute to and be surrounded by the best team in Formula 1 is very attractive, while also giving me some time to recharge and refocus.”
Ricciardo has previously indicated that Abu Dhabi could have been his last Grand Prix although he remains determined to return to Formula 1 in the future.
Despite his struggles, Ricciardo remained a popular figure thanks to his charismatic personality, and was one of the superstars of the 2000s Drive on Survive Series offered Formula 1 to a new fan base.
It is difficult to envision a path back to a top team in the short term, given the dearth of options, his recent form, and the prospect of promising youngsters emerging from the FIA pyramid.
“No, Daniel’s contract is very specific for a specific reason,” said Red Bull boss Horner when asked if Ricciardo’s deal includes a way back into the Red Bull racing lineup. “We have a contract with Checo for the next two years. What the Max and Checo partnership has produced has been exceptional for us.
“They have raced well with the team and we have no reason to think that this will be any different tomorrow or for the duration of their contractual obligation with the team thereafter.”
Before turning a wheel in the 2023 season, Red Bull and Ferrari had their drivers under contract for 2024, as did Albin and McLaren, the two teams Ricciardo had already left anyway. Mercedes appears to have a vacancy for 2024 but Lewis Hamilton, who is only contracted for 2023, has said he and Mercedes will discuss a new multi-year deal during the off-season.