After months of speculation, Australian Formula 1 star Daniel Ricciardo has made a shock decision about his future in the sport.
After being replaced by Australian youngster Oscar Piastri at McLaren in 2023, Ricciardo has returned to his old team at Red Bull Racing as a reserve driver.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Daniel Ricciardo falls on the first lap.
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Ahead of the season-ending Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, Red Bull boss Helmut Marko confirmed the news to Sky Sports and said Ricciardo will also be used in promotional and ambassador roles next season.
“Ricciardo will be our third driver,” said Marko after the first practice session.
“We have so many sponsors, we have to do show runs and stuff, so of course he’s one of the best known and most suitable.”
Ricciardo had originally hoped to return as a full-time driver in 2024, but no spots were available.
The Australian was then linked to Mercedes as a backup driver, playing third fiddle to Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.
As Ricciardo prepared for Abu Dhabi F1 before being unveiled as Red Bull’s reserve for 2023, he admitted he thought the race could be his last in the sport.
“Mentally, I’m not treating it like it’s my very last race – but it could be,” the 33-year-old, a popular figure on the racetrack for 11 years, admitted to reporters at a press conference.
“I know nothing is guaranteed for the future, so I’m going out to enjoy it, I’m not going to, say, get emotional at the thought of ‘oh, is it the last one or not?’ .
“I want to enjoy it and take it for what it is.”
But after Friday’s announcement that Ricciardo was back working with Red Bull Racing, we almost certainly haven’t seen the last Australian.
As reserve driver, Ricciardo helps with testing the car, simulator work, commercial commitments and stepping in when world champions Max Verstappen or Sergio Perez have to miss a race.
He will also act as a backup for Red Bull’s sister team, Alpha Tauri.
According to Sky Sports’ Damon Hill, Ricciardo’s decision to return to Red Bull was a wise one as he predicted he could have a full-time driver’s seat in 2024.
“It could get quite interesting given the issues they seem to have had between Max (Verstappen) and Sergio (Perez),” Hill said.
“Let’s say the toys fall out of the stroller and there’s some kind of fallout, then Daniel Ricciardo could be in the best position.
“It’s his home and he owes a lot to Red Bull so he’ll be very keen to be back in that herd.”
Compared to his younger McLaren teammate Lando Norris, Ricciardo has struggled lately, only winning the Italian Grand Prix in 2021 and not making a podium since.
Norris said he will miss having the Aussie as a teammate.
“What I’m going to miss the most is working so closely with a guy like Daniel, a guy who I’ve laughed so much with and learned so much from at the same time,” Norris said.
“Changing teammates isn’t a bad thing or a good thing, but it’s always a big change.
“It’s always a shame to leave someone because I feel like I always make good friends with my teammates and good relationships.
“But Daniel is Daniel, everyone loves Daniel.”
https://7news.com.au/sport/f1/daniel-ricciardo-snapped-up-by-rival-formula-one-team-in-shock-homecoming-to-red-bull-racing-c-8904297 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull: The Australian Formula 1 star makes a decision about the future as he prepares for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix