Daniel Ricciardo says he’s not thinking about the end of his F1 career just yet, but he’d like to end it as a Red Bull Racing driver.
Ricciardo returned to the Red Bull fold by landing a seat with AlphaTauri midway through 2023, having impressed in a Pirelli tyre test that spelled the end for the struggling Nyck de Vries after a tough first half-season with the Red Bull sister team.
Having been dropped by McLaren after 2022, Ricciardo’s return to AlphaTauri has rekindled a stuttering career as the Australian has come into the running for a possible return to Red Bull Racing – due to Sergio Perez’s struggles for performances – as he enters the last year of his contract.
Daniel Ricciardo: Ending my career at Red Bull would be perfect
Ricciardo opted to leave Red Bull at the end of 2018, having risen through the junior categories of motorsport with the backing of the energy drinks company. Racing for HRT and Toro Rosso to kick off his career, he was given the nod to join Red Bull Racing alongside Sebastian Vettel for 2014.
Becoming one of F1’s most feared drivers over the next five years as Ricciardo proved to have the measure of Vettel and Daniil Kvyat, it was Max Verstappen’s arrival in the team in 2016 that changed the dynamic away from the Australian.
With Verstappen slowly but surely putting more and more pressure on Ricciardo’s leadership, he opted to jump ship to Renault for two years before his ill-fated switch to McLaren. Now with a second chance within Red Bull, Ricciardo said he’s hoping to now see out his career within that environment – ideally with the senior racing team.
“I’m not even going to put a day, or date on it, or year, whatever,” he told the Beyond the Grid podcast when asked about his endgame and whether it’s the RBR seat after securing an F1 return.
“I think coming back into it and jumping back in with the Red Bull family, doing the test in July, all these things, working with Simon [Rennie] again, that’s really the dream.
“Honestly, to end my career as a Red Bull driver would be perfect. Not that I’m looking at the end, but if I go back there, then I’ll certainly make sure I finish there.”
Daniel Ricciardo: I’m really excited for 2024
While Ricciardo returned in 2023 before the summer break, he only got to compete in seven races in total – he missed five races as a result of breaking a metacarpal in his hand in a hefty practice crash at Zandvoort.
Having spent precious little time actually competing in 2023 after securing a comeback, it’s perhaps no surprise that Ricciardo is now chomping at the bit to get the winter break over and done with and then get stuck properly into his comeback.
“Yeah, it’s probably the first off-season that I’ll want to not go too long in terms of, I just want to keep racing,” he laughed.
“I think now that I’m back in it, I missed some time with the hand and I missed the first half of the season, I feel like I want to just get going. I’m excited for next year.
“It’s really going to be a change. I think the whole mentality of the team, it’s no longer just a junior team. It’s definitely going to be more than that. I’ll get a lot more involved with Red Bull, obviously as much as I can within the rules.
“I think there’s a lot more potential that a team like this can have and show. Even in the last part of the season, we were 10th in the championship, fighting for seventh, it turned around really quickly.
“The team can also recognise that we can be more than probably what we’ve shown. That’s really exciting and I’m excited about what lies ahead. I’m hungry, motivated, happy, determined, everything I need to feel, so I can’t wait.”