Climbing in the Red Bull RB19 at Silverstone on Tuesday morning, for Daniel Ricciardo there’s so much more riding on his two-day test than just helping Pirelli with their 2024 tyres.
Returning to Red Bull this season after two crushing years with McLaren, Ricciardo opted for a reserve driver role as he wished for time away from the track to regain his mojo.
With the smile firmly back on the Honey Badger’s face, Ricciardo says it’s now time to begin plotting his Formula 1 return with the driver targeting Sergio Perez’s Red Bull seat.
Daniel Ricciardo will drive the RB19 in a two-day tyre test
But in order to audition for that, he may first have to take Nyck de Vries’ AlphaTauri ride with the under-fire Dutchman yet to get off the mark in 10 races and reportedly facing the axe sooner rather than later.
“I’m remaining open-minded,” Ricciardo told Crash.net about the prospect of racing for the junior team.
“If it’s like ‘this is you and you are signing a three-year deal and that’s the only place you are going to be’, then no, that’s maybe not the deal I would look for.
“But if there’s the possibility to obviously be here [Red Bull]… The truth is this is where I want to be. I’m not going to weave my way around it.
“If that creates a path to get back here then yeah it’s something I would look at because ultimately this is the place where I want to get back to.”
Ricciardo will have his first audition for the AlphaTauri, or even Red Bull, seat when he takes to the Silverstone circuit on Tuesday for a Pirelli tyre test, one with so much more than just 2024’s rubber hinging on it.
“I’m staying open-minded and with a wide-lens on everything,” he added. “So I don’t want to be too stubborn.
“Being back in this family, it does feel like the best thing for me. So ideally something comes from this family and I don’t have to look elsewhere.”
Already Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has said he is “very interested to see what kind of job he does on Tuesday”.
He added: “It’s an important test for Pirelli but it’s also going to be great to see him back in a Red Bull car and seeing where he’s at – both on pace and mentally, physically and to get his feedback on this car as well.”
But while Horner was coy on the prospect of Ricciardo racing, the team’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko summed up the importance of the Aussie’s two-day test: “We’ll look at the tyre test, and then we can talk.”
Former F1 driver turned pundit Ralf Schumacher believes Red Bull have already made the call to replace De Vries with the six-time grand prix winner expecting them to announce Ricciardo as his replacement.
“We’ll have to wait and see if it really turns out to be Ricciardo in the end,” he told Sky Deutschland.
“I think the short break has certainly done him good and he can get down to business relaxed.
“However, the car [AT04] is not particularly good, but who knows? Maybe he likes the concept. The tyre test will certainly set the course.”