It became clear last week that Daniel Ricciardo will most likely continue his old-ish career at Red Bull Racing. Dr. Helmut Marko missed the race weekend in Abu Dhabi and stated that the deal was already done, Ricciardo being a bit more cautious, although he did point to an announcement soon.
Ricciardo said goodbye to Red Bull Racing at the end of 2018. The debut of Max Verstappen was imminent and the Australian received an offer from Renault (Alpine) that he could not refuse. Things did not go smoothly for the French team, although the eight-time Grand Prix winner managed to reach the podium twice. McLaren’s interest piqued, and before the season began in 2020, Ricciardo announced that he would defend the team’s colors from Woking from 2021. That marriage resulted in a victory at Monza, but other than that, the Australian can only look back on a disappointing period.
Switch to Red Bull Racing
Although it has not yet been officially announced, the British Race Details of Ricciardo’s move to Red Bull Racing. The team will have a back-up role in mind for the Australian, with marketing activities dedicated to him in particular. According to the broker, the contract was signed after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday night.
Ricciardo saw forced retirement approaching when McLaren announced the services of Oscar Piastri in the summer. Woking’s team would have preferred Ricciardo not to leave, but it wasn’t a seat in Formula E or IndyCar that the Australian wanted at the moment. Haas’ team had indicated time and time again that they were very interested in the cheery Aussie, but the love was not mutual and the same was true of Williams. Although the past two years have not been the most successful period in the Australian’s career, he is still committed to a senior team. Via Red Bull Racing, Ricciardo hopes to sign a contract again as the driver of a team fighting for victories, with a year to spare.
With Ricciardo enlisted, the question logically arises whether the Australian will eventually become the team’s regular rider again. Max Verstappen’s contract runs until the end of 2028 and Sergio Pérez’s contract expires at the end of 2024. If Ricciardo aims to get one of the seats with the Austrian team, he will have to wait until at least the end of 2024 or before Red Bull terminates the contract with one of the drivers. Verstappen has signed a long-term contract, so the only option is to seat Perez. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner immediately denied this plan: “We have a contract with Perez for the next two years and the two drivers have a good relationship, and they also compete well for the team. We don’t see why we should adjust.”
Ricciardo himself has indicated that whatever he does in 2023 would bring him closer to returning in 2024 and not necessarily be at Red Bull Racing. But when Horner rules out returning as a regular driver, Ricciardo doesn’t. “Of course, to be with a big team like Red Bull is very good,” he frankly admitted. “But it certainly does not guarantee that I will get a permanent seat.”
Friction Perez and Verstappen
From the Grand Prix of Sao Paulo, it became clear that the relationship between the current duo at Red Bull Racing, which was very strong at first, was beginning to crack. Internal tensions surfaced during the race in Brazil after Verstappen refused to help his team mate. Verstappen noted that the air is fresh, however Race Sources have confirmed that things have heated up between Brazil and Abu Dhabi behind the scenes at Red Bull Racing. Ricciardo and Verstappen have been teammates in the past and tensions ran high at times there, but never as heatedly as the duo is at the moment. Red Bull could also use Ricciardo to put more pressure on Perez.
If Red Bull and Ricciardo do in fact unite, it wouldn’t necessarily mean the end of Perez at Red Bull. However, the Austrian team suddenly has a stick behind the door, if again there is a problem within the team, or if Perez has always been too slow compared to his teammate.
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