Daniel Ricciardo put in his first on-track laps in the Red Bull RB19 at Silverstone on Tuesday as the Aussie kicked off a two-day Pirelli tyre test, billed by the media as his Red Bull audition.
Keen to return to the Formula 1 grid next season, Ricciardo has made it known he’s opening to racing for AlphaTauri if that clears a path to Red Bull down the line.
But having yet to put in a single lap on-track in the 2023 car, there are questions about whether the Honey Badger has bounced back from his McLaren woes to regain his lost form.
First laps in the RB19 for Daniel Ricciardo
Team boss Christian Horner conceded this over the British GP weekend when he said: “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.”
After that, and of course depending on his performance, Ricciardo could even find himself in the AT04 as early as the first race after the summer break, the Dutch Grand Prix, with Helmut Marko revealing Red Bull are “reviewing the situation” at AlphaTauri.
Ricciardo’s audition kicked off on Tuesday morning.
Almost done, Silverstone 🍯🦡
— Oracle Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) July 11, 2023
Testing Pirelli’s potential 2024 tyres, tyres designed not to require tyre blankets, he began putting in the laps over what will be two days of running for the eight-time grand prix winner.
One person who appears to be supporting Ricciardo’s return is his former team-mate Max Verstappen, who recently talked up the Aussie.
🚨 Daniel Ricciardo ya rueda con el Red Bull en pista.
¡A por todas, Daniel! 🦡🍯
— Fórmula Directa (@FormulaDirecta) July 11, 2023
“He does his job well in the simulator,” said the reigning World Champion, “but you know, that’s not something that surprises me either.
“He has had difficult years at McLaren, of course, but you don’t lose your talent. And of course he also has a lot of experience.
“I think he is also just comfortable with us at the moment. He says that himself, that he has taken a step back to reset himself. In the end, he just feels at home with the team. He has of course been with this team for a long time.”
Team boss Horner was on hand to watch Ricciardo, who won seven of his eight grands prix with Red Bull, in action. And the driver wasn’t holding back, pushing so hard he went spinning.
— Richie Dow (@RichieDow90) July 11, 2023
Although it’s De Vries who’s seat is on the line, one other driver who’ll be paying close attention to Ricciardo’s performance is Sergio Perez.
Once again falling short of the mark set by Verstappen, and failing to make it into Q3 for the past five races, Perez has already been warned by Red Bull he needs to “sort out” his qualifying. Perez, though, will be relieved to note there was no ‘or else’ added to that.