Christian Horner claims Daniel Ricciardo has ‘rediscovered his mojo’ with 2024 seat linked

Henry Valantine
Daniel Ricciardo wears a floral bucket hat in Canada.

Red Bull reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo wears a floral bucket hat.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has said Daniel Ricciardo has “rediscovered his mojo” in his third driver role with the team.

Ricciardo returned to Red Bull as a reserve after his contract with McLaren was ended a year early, and he is due to get behind the wheel of the RB19 for the first time for three days of tyre testing after the British Grand Prix at Silverstone next weekend.

Ricciardo has been linked with a return to the grid for 2024, potentially with Red Bull’s junior team, AlphaTauri, and the Australian himself admitted that a return to Red Bull would represent a “fairytale ending” to his career.

Christian Horner: ‘World-class’ Daniel Ricciardo now ‘extremely competitive’ in simulator conditions

Ricciardo has been taking in much of Red Bull’s simulator work back at the team’s Milton Keynes base throughout race weekends so far this season, alongside several paddock appearances as the team’s official reserve driver.

Being back in the paddock has relit the fire for the Australian, who turns 34 on Saturday, to become a permanent fixture on the grid once again, after opting to take a year on the sidelines for 2023.

Horner was asked about what the future may look like for Ricciardo, and on the question of AlphaTauri, he said the choice is theirs over their 2024 line-up.

“Well, it’s still very early days, you know, for next year, and I think that Daniel is under contract for the year,” Horner told reporters in Austria when asked if AlphaTauri could be a genuine destination for the Australian next season.

“He’s going to be driving our car for the first time after the British Grand Prix and he’s obviously a world-class driver. He’s won what, seven [8, sic] Grands Prix in his career to date?

“So I think the first thing will be to see how he performs and where his motivation is, and then from there, it’s a question for AlphaTauri as to, you know, their choices for the following season.”

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Horner admitted his “shock” at the state in which Ricciardo returned to the team after he left McLaren, previously stating that he felt he had lost weight and was not in the same condition than when he left Red Bull at the end of 2018.

Since then, however, Horner thinks he is now closer resembling the driver he worked with over the course of five seasons.

“Well, when he first arrived after Abu Dhabi last year, it was a little bit of a shock because we didn’t really recognise him from the driver that had left us a few years earlier,” he said.

“But he seems to have rediscovered his mojo, he’s been working hard on the simulator, he’s now extremely competitive in what he’s doing in the virtual world.

“So, whether that crosses over into the real world, you know, we’ll see, albeit at a tyre test. We’ll get an impression as to the level that he’s performing at. But certainly, you can see that there’s a spring coming back in his step.”

On Ricciardo’s simulator work, Horner added that the feedback the eight-time race winner has given the team trackside has been important for them as their race weekends have progressed.

“He’s done a pretty decent amount of mileage. I mean, he’s done pretty much… Most of the races that he’s not been attending he’s been back in the factory supporting on the sim.

“So, you know, he’s thrown himself into that, and has been giving very valuable feedback.”

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