The Australian GP was flooded with homely vibes for Daniel Ricciardo as he returned to Albert Park reunited with the Red Bull team.
For the first time in over a decade Formula 1 is contesting a season without the presence of eight-time race winner Ricciardo on the grid.
After McLaren decided to cut an underwhelming spell short for the Aussie at the end of 2022, that left Ricciardo in need of a drive elsewhere to continue in Formula 1 for F1 2023.
He chose though to take a year away from the series to regroup, with no opening at a leading team appearing, Ricciardo having said that it would have taken a team that could have put him back in the hunt for wins to convince him to stick around for 2023.
As it turned out, Ricciardo did sign with Formula 1’s top team, or rather re-sign as he agreed terms to return to Red Bull as a third driver, attending selected events on the F1 2023 calendar.
And one of those, understandably, was the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, Ricciardo’s home race over his years in Formula 1.
That signature beaming smile, which had become something of a rare sight towards the end of his McLaren spell, was back in full force around the Albert Park paddock, Ricciardo feeling very much at home back in the Red Bull colours.
“Well, that was a blast! Ricciardo began in a post on his LinkedIn page. “A little different this year but the Australian GP is always a highlight.
“Firstly the crowd, I can’t tell you how many people wished me well over the weekend, it truly blew me away to still have that support.
“I’ve said it before, but being back with Red Bull racing just felt like home, from the engineering meetings to the uniform and everything in between, it put a big smile on my face.”
Red Bull have made a mighty start to the season, hoovering up all three pole positions and race victories on offer so far.
Two of those went to Max Verstappen, who alongside winning the Bahrain and Australian GPs, claimed a P2 finish and fastest lap in Saudi Arabia, giving him a 15-point lead over Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez at the top of the Drivers’ standings.