Christian Horner has said Daniel Ricciardo has so far met his expectations after the return of the Australian to an F1 seat.
Ricciardo is two races into his comeback having first joined the AlphaTauri outfit for the Hungarian Grand Prix and while he has yet to score a point, he has already looked a step up from the former incumbent Nyck de Vries.
The Austrialaun’s goal is to help Yuki Tsunoda guide AlphaTauri off the foot of the Constructors’ standings and Horner has been pleased with the progress made so far.
Daniel Ricciardo meeting expectation in ‘very difficult circumstances’
Speaking ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix, Red Bull boss Horner was asked for his thoughts on Ricciardo’s retun to racing and the 49-year-old believed the former McLaren driver had coped well with what was thrown at him.
“I thought in very difficult circumstances for him, getting dropped in the car he’d never sat in before, I thought he did very, very well,” Horner told media including PlanetF1.com. “I thought, you know, to qualify, and in the top 13. He was a little unlucky at the start of the race, but then when you look at his pace, his race pace, particularly that long run on the medium tyre in the second half the race, his pace was extremely good.
“I thought for a comeback drive in difficult circumstances, he actually acquitted himself very, very well.
“I think he met [expectations]. I mean, seeing what he did at Silverstone the previous Tuesday in the tyre test, I think after that expectations changed. What it’s brought to AlphaTauri is a huge amount of experience and possibly some direction, obviously with the experience that he brings as a grand prix winner.”
It is no secret that Ricciardo has ambition beyond AlphaTauri and Horner said Ricciardo believes a drive with the sister outfit is the quickest route back into a competitive seat.
“Obviously, the reason that Daniel was brought back into the seat is not because he has long term aspirations to be an AlphaTauri driver for the next five years,” Horner explained. “He sees it as the quickest route to getting back into a competitive seat.
“I think that clearly his objectives are on a 2025 Red Bull Racing seat when we have obviously a vacancy. Now, Daniel has an opportunity between now and the end of the year to demonstrate that he hasn’t lost any of his form and then a decision will be made as to whether he remains in that seat for a further 12 months.
“[It has been] very clear that AlphaTauri drivers and Toro Rosso before that, drivers have been placed there to develop them as potential Red Bull Racing candidates and Daniel’s very aware of that, and that’s his objective, but that wouldn’t be before 2025.”