It’s been a tough few years for Australian F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo. After leaving Red Bull at the end of 2018 to join the Renault F1 team, he struggled to find his footing. And then, a switch to McLaren for 2021 proved to be an even worse move for the racer. Now, after being dropped from McLaren ahead of the 2023 season, it sounds like Ricciardo might have finally found a job for next year, back at Red Bull.
Ricciardo was ousted by McLaren earlier this year after he failed to live up to the team’s expectations. After winning seven races with Red Bull and clinching two podiums while at Renault, things looked good for his move to the British team.
But, since joining them in 2021, the Aussie has struggled to get to grips with the car and was consistently outperformed by his young teammate, Lando Norris. Despite his struggles at the squad, Ricciardo remains the first McLaren driver to win a race since Jenson Button way back in 2012.
In racing, however, one win can’t make up for two years of pain. So in August, McLaren announced it would be ending Ricciardo’s contract a year early and bringing in young Australian racer Oscar Piastri to take his place at the Woking-based squad.
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This left Ricciardo without a seat for 2023 and with few options left on the grid.
As it was announced Pierre Gasly was moving to Alpine, Nyck de Vries would fill the vacant seat at Alpha Tauri and Nico Hülkenberg emerged as the favorite for the seat at Haas, Ricciardo’s options were up.
Now, it’s emerged that he’s likely to take on a reserve driver role at a top team next year. According to Motorsport.com, the Australian is heading back to Red Bull and where it all started to become the team’s third driver for 2023. The site reports:
“The potential of a return to Red Bull Racing in a reserve role had been mooted in recent weeks. Ricciardo raced for the team between 2014 and 2018, scoring seven of his eight wins for the team and twice finishing third in the world championship.
“Although no formal announcement has been made by the team, Red Bull advisor [Helmut] Marko claimed Ricciardo was set to sign as a third driver for next year, indicating the role would be chiefly relating to ambassador events and show runs.”
As Red Bull has Max Verstappen nailed down ‘till 2028 and team mate Sergio Perez contracted until 2024, it’s unlikely Ricciardo will get called back onto the grid with the squad any time soon. Instead, he’ll likely just be on hand in case one of the full-time drivers is forced to miss a race for any reason.
In recent weeks, Ricciardo seemed satisfied with taking a back seat in the sport next year before working towards a full-time return to the grid in 2024. As well as the Red Bull reserve role, he was also linked to a switch to Mercedes for a back-up drive next year.
What do you think of the switch? Is Ricciardo right to take on a lesser role in the sport next year? And, now that he won’t be racing full-time in the sport, who should I support instead? It’s currently a toss up between Nyck de Vries at Alpha Tauri and Fernando Alonso at Aston Martin.