Red Bull has confirmed Daniel Ricciardo will join its team as a third driver next season — a role that will include testing, simulator work and commercial activity.
Ricciardo had his McLaren contract cut one year short over the summer after a lack of on-track performance convinced the team to sign fellow Australian Oscar Piastri to replace him in 2023.
When the news broke, Ricciardo’s options were limited and it soon became clear he was unlikely to continue racing in F1 next year.
As early as the Dutch Grand Prix in September, Ricciardo confessed he was looking to F1’s top two teams — Red Bull and Mercedes — for a reserve role.
He remains hopeful that he can return to a race seat in 2024, although it is unlikely to be with Red Bull as Max Verstappen is contracted to stay at the team until 2028 and Sergio Perez has a deal until the end of 2024.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner said it was not the team’s intention to line Ricciardo up as a replacement for Perez.
“No, Daniel’s contract is very specific,” he said. “We have a contract with Checo [Perez] for the next two years. The partnership of Max and Checo has been phenomenal for us.”
Ricciardo drove for Red Bull from 2014 to 2018 and entered the sport in 2011 with the backing of its junior driver programme. His return was leaked by Red Bull’s senior management over the Abu Dhabi race weekend and confirmed by the team on Wednesday.
“The smile says it all, I’m truly excited to be coming back home to Oracle Red Bull Racing as their Third Driver in 2023,” Ricciardo said. “I already have so many fond memories of my time here, but the welcome from Christian, Dr Marko and the entire team is something I’m sincerely appreciative of.
“For me personally, the ability to contribute to and be surrounded by the best team in F1 is hugely appealing, whilst also giving me some time to recharge and refocus. I can’t wait to be with the team and support with simulator work, testing sessions and commercial activities.”
Horner added: “It is great to bring Daniel back into the Red Bull family. He has enormous talent and such a brilliant character; I know the whole factory is excited to be welcoming him home. In his role as test and third driver, Daniel will give us the chance to diversify, assisting in the development of the car, aiding the team with his experience and knowledge of what it takes to succeed in F1. We’re very pleased to be working with Daniel again and look forward to everything he will bring to the team in 2023.”