Next month, everyone’s favourite Australian Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo will have the chance to get behind the wheel of a Red Bull F1 car for the first time in five years, eating up the Ks at the British Grand Prix.
There’s no denying the two Red Bull drivers have been flying this season, claiming victories in each of the eight races this year – Max Verstappen has won six, whilst Sergio “Checo” Pérez has won two – and is running away with the Constructors’ Championship ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix, their home race.
Red Bull has claimed its 100th win in its history and Max Verstappen is 69 points clear of his teammate heading into the Austrian Grand Prix. It should be plain sailing from here on then, right?
Yet murmurs are now coming out of the Red Bull camp that Daniel Ricciardo will be driving for his old team again at Silverstone, stepping back into the monocoque where he first made his name all those years ago.
Speaking with Austrian media, Red Bull’s Helmut Marko suggested the team was set to “evaluate where Ricciardo really stands,” during the Pirelli tyre tests, seemingly encouraging rumours that the Austrian outfit is considering a midseason switch.
WATCH Daniel Ricciardo’s announcement that he’d be leaving McLaren below.
It’s no secret that Ricciardo is favoured at Red Bull, returning to his former team following a poor 2022 season with McLaren that ultimately saw his seat given to the new Aussie kid on the block, Oscar Piastri.
With open seats at Williams and Haas towards the tail end of last season, where Danny Ric would place his iconic DR3 helmet was up for serious contention, but the Australian driver has previously stated that he would only return to the grid with a top team, even admitting: “Honestly, the fairytale ending [would be] to finish my career here [at Red Bull] if I could have it all my own way.”
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner quickly snapped him up for the 2022/23 season, primarily for Pirelli tyre testing and further commercial responsibilities (particularly as the F1 schedule continues to expand into the USA). But now with Pérez’s faltering form, fresh rumours are circulating about Ricciardo’s chances of returning to the Red Bull garage.
“We were surprised to see Daniel be out on the open market. So, for us having grown up with Red Bull, having nurtured him since being a junior, it made sense for us to bring him back into the fold. A driver with so much experience and such a high profile.”Christian Horner, Red Bull Team Principal
Could Daniel Ricciardo take back his old Red Bull seat?
Things certainly move quickly in Formula 1; just ask Sergio Pérez. Two months ago, Pérez stood tall on the podium in Azerbaijan, spraying champagne over his Red Bull teammate Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, looking up the table at the eight-point gap to 1st shrinking above him. Some fans even thought he’d be able to mount a genuine championship bid.
But after a recent spate of well-below-par performances, Red Bull’s announcement will undoubtedly put increasing pressure on the Mexican driver, whose recent form has allowed the chasing pack back into the frame.
“His [Pérez’s] initial goal was two or three years, that would be more than he planned anyway, and you just have to keep options open for the successor.”Helmut Marko, Red Bull Senior Advisor
The Red Bull hierarchy is infamously impatient with underperforming drivers and is certainly unafraid to make a midseason chop if they feel it’s in the best interests of the team. Recent conversations surrounding Ricciardo’s future will only become more prevalent as we head into the midway point of the season, with suggestions a seat at Red Bull sister team AlphaTauri could become available going into 2024, if Ricciardo was so inclined.
But if the recent rumours are to be believed, Daniel Ricciardo would only have to bide his time for his opportunity, and the Honey Badger’s path back to the Formula 1 grid could be one he’s driven before…