How Daniel Ricciardo is keeping peace between Verstappen and Perez

Sam Cooper
Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo. New York, February 2023.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo. New York, February 2023.

Christian Horner believes the “big energy” of Daniel Ricciardo is improving the relationship between Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen.

After being let go at McLaren, Ricciardo returned to Red Bull as third driver with him making his first trackside appearance in Melbourne last time out.

But his return to driving in F1 seems just as far away now as it did when he departed the sport last year with the Australian recently revealing he still only intends to return if it is for a top team.

Even with one eye on next season and his F1 future, it appears Ricciardo has taken to his new role at Red Bull which is part test driver, part PR guy and team boss Horner revealed one of the main aspects he is helping with is driver relationships.

“He’s a big energy guy,” Horner told Red Bull’s Talking Bull podcast. “Max learned a lot from him when he was here in the early years and I think that Daniel’s performing a different role this year.

“He’s doing a lot of marketing work. He’s doing a lot of work on the simulator and then the development of the car and supporting over grand prix weekends.

“I think having his energy around the two drivers, it makes them feel more at ease. It’s less awkward between the two of them, particularly when the two of them are competing against each other and they both genuinely like him because he’s just that kind of guy. You can’t dislike Daniel Ricciardo.”

Horner also detailed what role Ricciardo would be serving in the team but ruled out the possibility of him doing any FP1s.

“He won’t be doing any FP1 but he’ll be doing some tyre testing for us and any opportunity like that to have a driver on the bench of Daniel’s quality and calibre is phenomenal for us. recommends

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“It was great to have him back. We didn’t want him to go in the first place. He went off and had his life experience through a couple of different teams and certainly the last couple of years, we haven’t seen the real Daniel.

“When Daniel drove for us, he was right up there with the very best. Some of his overtaking moves were legendary. We didn’t really see that over the last couple of years and Daniel would have been out of Formula 1 if we hadn’t given him a lifeline.

“It just felt that it was too soon for him to be calling it a day on the sport. He’s the kind of guy that lights up a room when he walks into it so it was great to get him back in a different role this year.

“For him, I think, to also start to try and fall in love with the sport again, because I feel that he’d lost that. That passion through the experiences that he had and he is a really sensitive guy behind that big smile. He’s very vulnerable.

“Certainly when he first came back, it wasn’t a Daniel that we recognised. He was driving differently. He looked different. He lost a huge amount of weight and he’d lost that self confidence, that self assurance and bit by bit that’s coming back.”