Daniel Ricciardo’s return to Red Bull as their third driver for the 2023 Formula 1 season has been confirmed by the team.
The Australian’s future had been shrouded in doubt for the last few months of the 2022 campaign following the early termination of his contract by McLaren, who brought in Oscar Piastri to race for them next year instead.
With no race seat available that appealed to him, Ricciardo began gravitating towards a year on the sidelines and a potential role as a reserve driver for a leading team.
Despite being linked with Mercedes, speculation intensified at the season’s finale in Abu Dhabi about Ricciardo re-joining Red Bull – with Helmut Marko and Christian Horner confirming a deal, which has now been finalised, was close.
Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez will, of course, remain Red Bull’s race drivers, but the team have listed the duties Ricciardo will undertake as he returns to the team for which he competed between 2014 and 2018, winning seven grands prix.
The 33-year-old will “assist the team with testing and sim work, as well as commercial activity”. There was also a subtle reference to the nature of Ricciardo’s departure, when he eschewed a new contract at the end of 2018 to take on a new challenge at Renault.
“Since Daniel left the team at the end of 2018, he has spent two years respectively at Renault and McLaren,” read the team’s announcement. “Whilst he hasn’t seen the success he was accustomed to, he remains a phenomenal and highly respected driver who brings another layer of knowledge and expertise to the team.”
Referring to the picture that accompanied the announcement of he and team principal Christian Horner sharing a joke, Ricciardo said: “The smile says it all – I’m truly excited to be coming back home to Oracle Red Bull Racing as their third driver in 2023.
“I already have so many fond memories of my time here but the welcome from Christian, Dr Marko and the entire team is something I’m sincerely appreciative of.
“For me personally, the ability to contribute to and be surrounded by the best team in F1 is hugely appealing, whilst also giving me some time to recharge and refocus. I can’t wait to be with the team and support with simulator work, testing sessions and commercial activities. Let’s go!”
Ricciardo has expressed a desire not to attend every race in 2023 and is expected to share reserve driver duties with rookie Liam Lawson, as predicted by Marko in Abu Dhabi.
Horner said: “It’s great to bring Daniel back into the Red Bull family. He has enormous talent and such a brilliant character – I know the whole factory is excited to be welcoming him home.
“In his role as test and third driver, Daniel will give us the chance to diversify, assisting in the development of the car, aiding the team with his experience and knowledge of what it takes to succeed in F1.
“We are very pleased to be working with Daniel again and look forward to everything he will bring to the team in 2023.”