Daniel Ricciardo has revealed there is no specific criteria to meet to secure a “dream” return to Red Bull, but admits he most “show something” at AlphaTauri over the rest of the F1 2023 season.
Having began this season as Red Bull’s reserve driver, Ricciardo will make a sensational return to racing at this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix after replacing Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri.
Ricciardo has made no secret of his ultimate aim to return to Red Bull – the team with whom he won seven grand prix over five seasons between 2014-2018 – with his comeback widely interpreted as a way to exert pressure on the underperforming Sergio Perez, who despite taking two wins has reached Q3 at just four of the first 10 races of 2023.
Daniel Ricciardo openly targeting Red Bull return
With Perez contracted until the end of 2024, team principal Christian Horner recently insisted that the Mexican will remain as Max Verstappen’s team-mate next year but hinted Ricciardo could be in line to realise his “golden objective” in 2025.
After shining in the dominant RB19 car in a recent Pirelli tyre test at Silverstone – where, according to reports, his best lap would have secured him a place on the front row for the British Grand Prix – Ricciardo has reiterated his determination to reclaim his Red Bull seat in the near future.
Yet after sitting on the sidelines for the first half of 2023, he is wary of thinking too far ahead – and has insisted Red Bull have not given him a set of specific targets to achieve during his AlphaTauri stay.
Asked if the remaining 12 races of 2023 are critical for his future prospects, he told media in Budapest: “Yeah, for sure.
“There’s no real criteria at the moment but I need to show something, for sure. For next year and beyond, there’s no guarantees probably ever with this sport.
“I think that’s [a Red Bull return] the dream, so to speak, but there’s no point in me thinking about that. There’s going to be a lot of work to do here.
“I think, in terms of expectation, there is none. Everything I felt driving the car last week is how I want to go racing again. I just want to be in the moment, enjoying it, not thinking too far ahead.
“I’ve obviously been following [AlphaTauri’s progress] and I’m sure the car is going to have some limitations, but I’ve got to do the best with what I got. If it’s something that I feel I can work with, then that’s all I need to then feel good behind the wheel again and also use some of my experience to push the team.
“As far as this weekend goes, if you say, ‘Where do you want to finish?’, I couldn’t tell you. I just want to know that I’ve put everything into it and done a lap that I’m proud of.”
Ricciardo’s reputation was severely damaged by his struggles at McLaren in 2021/22, when despite ending the team’s nine-year winless streak he was routinely outperformed by younger team-mate Lando Norris.
The 34-year-old is relishing the chance to restore his status as one of F1’s most outstanding talents and, following his Red Bull testing appearance, views his AlphaTauri shot as the latest step in his rehabilitation.
He said: “I think already getting an opportunity is another chance to make things better, if you will.
“I think that’s as well why I was excited to get back behind the wheel and just show my true self – and even the thought of that excites me.
“Obviously, I have a dream of a Red Bull seat, but there is no, ‘This is what you need to do.’ Everything’s happened so quick.
“Obviously, the test was the first box I needed to tick – that was great – but now it’s like: ‘Alright, this is another hurdle.’
“I mean, you know what they’re like – they’re not like, ‘Take it easy’, they’re like, ‘Show us what you’ve got’ – but there’s no criteria.”