Christian Horner reveals several talks with Daniel Ricciardo over shock Red Bull exit

Jamie Woodhouse
Christian Horner and Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, looking down. Monaco, May 2023.

Christian Horner and Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, looking down from a balcony. Monaco, May 2023.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner says he has spoken with Daniel Ricciardo about his past choice to exit the team, but while suggesting the Aussie regrets that decision, it is now water under the bridge.

Ricciardo is now a member of the Red Bull family again, having returned to the team as their reserve and simulator driver ahead of the F1 2023 campaign, before being sent to their junior team AlphaTauri to replace Nyck de Vries who had struggled to impress in a 10-race spell.

But, considering Ricciardo walked away from a Red Bull seat at the end of 2018 as Max Verstappen’s stock rose, it has left a question mark over what could have been.

Red Bull exit topic came up for Christian Horner and Daniel Ricciardo

Ricciardo would spend two seasons at Renault after his Red Bull exit, a pair of P3 finishes as good as it got there, before embarking on a nightmare two-season spell with McLaren, which ended with his contract being terminated before its final year due to underperformance.

But, while Horner and Ricciardo have talked about that past split, the Red Bull boss claims what is most important is that Ricciardo is now back in the “family” and “enjoying” his driving once more.

Asked by ESPN whether he and Ricciardo have spoken about his past decision to leave Red Bull, Horner replied: “Occasionally we’ve spoken about it, even when he wasn’t with us.

“So, look, you can’t turn back the clock. And in life sometimes you make decisions that a few years later, you perhaps you wish you’d taken another path.

“But the most important thing is he’s gotten himself back into a situation where he’s back within the Red Bull family, he’s in a race car and he’s enjoying his driving again.”

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Ricciardo chose not to pursue a spot on the F1 2023 grid initially after the turmoil of his McLaren spell, the Aussie wanting a break to rediscover his love for the series.

And Horner detailed how they were able to work with Ricciardo to banish the “bad habits” which he picked up elsewhere, with the performance returning from there, culminating in the Silverstone tyre test which convinced Red Bull to give him De Vries’ AlphaTauri seat.

“It’s been great to have him back and around,” said Horner.

“Daniel, the last couple of years, [we] didn’t really recognise as the same character that was with us for those years.

“And so, in bringing him back into the Red Bull fold, we had to build him back up and unpick a few bad habits that he got into.

“And we saw gradually, in the virtual world, his performance getting better and better and stronger and stronger to be matching the race drivers.

“And then of course, he did an amazing test at Silverstone where he was truly impressive and he knew there was a lot riding on that test.

“And then it became a logical choice for him to step into the AlphaTauri.

“It looks like he’s enjoying life again. He’s enjoying driving again. And it’ll be fascinating to see how he does in the second half of the season.”

With the AlphaTauri team bottom of the Constructors’ standings ahead of their looming makeover for 2024, Ricciardo will be out to ensure after the summer break that he does not finish with a zero next to his name in the Drivers’ Championship.

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