Every since Daniel Ricciardo joined Red Bull as a reserve driver for the 2023 Formula 1 season, speculation has grown about how — and with what team — Ricciardo could make a return to the grid.
That speculation grew recently when AlphaTauri rookie Nyck de Vries was given the “yellow card” from Helmut Marko, an advisor to Red Bull, about the driver’s poor form. But with the rookie faring better in recent weeks, and Marko pointing to the team’s crop of young talent, Ricciardo replacing de Vries midseason seems out of the cards.
In recent weeks, however, Ricciardo has opened up more and more about a return to F1, and how he would like that to happen. In an interview with Claire Cottingham of RaceFans ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, Ricciardo opened up about how he wants his story to end: With a return to F1.
“I think as well there’s a part of me – and this might sound like ego, but it’s certainly not – I don’t want my book to close that way,” he told RaceFans. “I don’t really care too much about legacy, but I feel like it’s not the way that I should go out and I feel like I can still give more. So if I get the right opportunity, of course I would love to do that.”
Now we also know where he wants to stage that comeback.
With Red Bull.
Speaking with ESPN, Ricciardo called returning to the grid with Red Bull the “fairytale” ending. “This for me would be like the fairytale. Honestly, the fairytale ending [would be] to finish my career here if I could have it all my own way.” Ricciardo told ESPN about returning to Red Bull on a permanent basis. “But we’ll see. I’ll probably have to work my way up a little bit but it’s really nice to be back here.”
Finding a seat with the team, however, might prove difficult. Max Verstappen is under contract until 2028, and Sergio Pérez’s deal runs through the 2024 season. According to the ESPN report, Ricciardo is open to the idea of driving for AlphaTauri during the 2024 season. De Vries is currently on a two-year deal which runs through the 2024 campaign, while Yuki Tsunoda signed a one-year deal through the end of the 2023 season.
There were rumblings of Pérez’s seat being in danger in certain portions of the F1 world recently, given his struggles the past few races, but both Marko and Team Principal Christian Horner brushed off any suggestions that his seat was in danger. ”It’s all nonsense. Sergio’s place has never been in jeopardy and will never be in jeopardy,” declared Marko recently to F1 Insider.
“It is an important element in achieving the goals we have set for this year,” Marko added. “We want to finish first and second in the Drivers’ championship and become Constructors’ World Champion as quickly as possible.”
Yet, Ricciardo believes he can get back to his old self on the grid next season. Speaking on Sunday’s The Grandstand with Will Arnett and Daniel Ricciardo, the alternate telecast on ESPN of the Canadian Grand Prix, Ricciardo had this to say: “I know I can come back as a more complete version of myself.”
Ricciardo has also impressed Horner in the simulator, and is slated for a test at Silverstone following the British Grand Prix.
If he does make the return to the grid, that means he would be able to eat during the races anymore, something he noted during Sunday’s telecast:
Did I just hear Daniel Ricciardo say, “I know from on the grid next year”— Clay ✌ (@OKClay_) June 19, 2023
What do you know sir pic.twitter.com/JU2uvFf705
“I know if I’m on the grid next year I’m going to look back on this and be like ‘you know, enjoy those days when you could just eat during a race.’”
However, it seems that right now, Ricciardo would be willing to make that trade.
Especially if it involves the “fairytale” ending.