Daniel Ricciardo made a return to Red Bull as the team’s reserve driver ahead of the 2023 season, having been shown the exit door at McLaren. As things stand, Ricciardo’s main contribution at Red Bull comes at the factory, where he drives on the team’s simulator.
With Sergio Perez’s future under threat owing to inconsistency on the track and a far from ideal working relationship with teammate Max Verstappen, Ricciardo has been mooted to take over the Mexican’s seat next season.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner had tried not to get drawn into talks surrounding Ricciardo, but he has now confessed that the Australian driver is in consideration, having “re-found his mojo”.
Perez had initially started the 2023 season in extremely positive fashion and was seen as the main challenger to Verstappen’s quest of making it three consecutive world championships.
However, he has suffered a big dip in form and his consistency is rumoured to have unsettled the hierarchy at Red Bull, who are now on the lookout for a more suitable candidate to partner Verstappen.
Perez currently has a deal that runs till the end of the 2024 season, but Red Bull has a history of being ruthless with its drivers and he could very well be asked to leave at the end of the current campaign.
As things stand, Ricciardo has been spending considerable time at the team factory in Milton Keynes and seems to be doing the right things.
He has helped in gathering important data regarding the car which has helped the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Perez, while also assisting engineers in making the right strategic calls during races.
Horner has recognised the input being provided by Ricciardo and recently spoke about the driver’s prospects of featuring in a full-time role.
“He seems to have re-found his mojo,” Horner said. “He’s been working hard on the simulator, he’s now extremely competitive in what he’s doing in the virtual world.”
The British Grand Prix saw Ricciardo feature in tyre testing for Red Bull, with both Horner and the team’s technical advisor Helmut Marko keeping a close eye on the Honey Badger’s progress.
Although Perez has not enjoyed the best of partnerships with Verstappen, Horner has publicly maintained a strong stance in favour of the driver.
The second driver at Red Bull is usually one of the most difficult jobs to keep in the sport as they are directly compared with Verstappen.
Has Ricciardo done enough to earn another chance at Red Bull, or will he find a seat at the team’s sister team AlphaTauri? Let us know in the comments.