Daniel Ricciardo has admitted returning to Red Bull remains a “fairytale” aim for him in Formula 1 having returned to the grid earlier this year.
He acknowledged that it’s “not even close to being guaranteed”, but conversations surrounding the seat alongside Max Verstappen are set to intensify next year with Sergio Perez coming into the final year of his contract with the team.
Ricciardo will be one of several drivers – including Perez himself – who will be likely auditioning for a place with Red Bull in 2025, with that set to be one of the key components of next year’s driver ‘silly season’.
Daniel Ricciardo admits Red Bull return a ‘fairytale’
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher
With a host of drivers set to be out of contract next season, ‘silly season’ will be full of rumours surrounding driver moves, but the seat perhaps most coveted in Formula 1 at the moment will be the one alongside Verstappen.
Ricciardo has already been linked with the drive after Perez struggled for form in the middle of 2023, but Red Bull have thrown their backing behind the Mexican driver to continue into the final year of his contract.
Ricciardo, meanwhile, is thrilled to be in the rumour mill at all for such drives given that he was out of a seat this time last year after an early exit from McLaren.
While his main aim is still to “kick some butt” with Red Bull’s junior team next season, he admitted that a return to the senior squad remains his long-term goal.
“I definitely don’t see it as pressure,” Ricciardo told media including PlanetF1.com in Abu Dhabi when asked about the inevitable links to Red Bull in 2024.
“I think 12 months ago, a lot of the… call it rumours lists, for lack of better word, were normally negatively directed at me.
“So for me to be in a conversation again, whether it’s a rumour or not about, ‘Oh, could you be back in a Red Bull one day’, 12 months ago, 18 months ago, I never would have thought that would even be a conversation – even if it is just a rumour, I just didn’t think a rumour like that would exist.
“I think that just makes me smile. It gives me a lot of encouragement that just through the highs and the lows, the ups and downs, if you stay on the straight and narrow, crazy things can happen.
“I think that’s really also just part of this kind of comeback and [my attitude to] this return is: I’m just going to give it all I’ve got and if something crazy happens, that’s really cool.
“I think I’ll take it in my stride and whatever, but I’m also not getting ahead of myself with that. I still see that.
“I’ve said that would be a fairytale kind of way to finish my career, as a Red Bull driver, but I still use the word ‘fairytale’ because I know that it’s certainly not even close to being guaranteed or anything.
“I just want to kick some butt here. Very happy I’ve got a seat next year, I’m very happy that they signed me when I was on the sideline crying about my hand.
“Ultimately just happy to be back in the family and even if it’s not the big team, I’m just in a very happy place being here.”