Sergio Perez ‘pretty relaxed’ about Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull return

Henry Valantine
Daniel Ricciardo speaking with Sergio Perez. Netherlands September 2022

McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo speaking with Sergio Perez of Red Bull. Netherlands September 2022

Sergio Perez is unfazed about the prospect of Daniel Ricciardo waiting in the wings as Red Bull’s third driver next season, knowing that pressure is a part of Formula 1 and saying the move “doesn’t change anything” for him at the team.

Ricciardo left McLaren a year before the planned end of his contract after two underwhelming seasons with the team, with compatriot Oscar Piastri being drafted in to replace him alongside Lando Norris next season.

The Australian searched for another drive on the grid for 2023, but without a competitive enough seat forthcoming, he has opted to take a year on the sidelines in the hope of taking on a front-running car for the 2024 season.

He held discussions with Mercedes over a reserve deal, but the eight-time grand prix winner has since signed a deal to make a return to Red Bull as their third driver for next season, which will include simulator and marketing duties, as well as attendance at certain races in 2023.

Even though Perez signed a new two-year contract with Red Bull back in May to see him to the end of the 2024 season, having a driver of Ricciardo’s calibre in reserve, as well as his long history with the team, will likely act as a reminder for the Mexican to keep performing well alongside Max Verstappen at the team next year.

And for the Red Bull driver, who picked up his third place trophy for the Drivers’ Championship at the FIA Prize Giving Gala in Bologna on Friday night, he is happy to have Ricciardo on board.

“I’m pretty relaxed,” Perez told Sky Sports at Red Bull’s Milton Keynes show run on Saturday, celebrating the team’s title success near their factory.

“I mean, we live under a lot of pressure all the time. It doesn’t change anything from my side, I think it’s a great achievement for the team to have a driver like Daniel and he’s going to contribute a lot to our team.

“He’s a great guy, he’s one of the guys that I get on [with] the most in the paddock, so I think it’s just great to have Daniel in the team, and from my side doesn’t change anything.”

For Ricciardo himself, he acknowledged he will know for certain whether or not he will want to come back to Formula 1 full-time when the cars begin racing without him next year – and the only way of knowing is to see it happen.

“I would be very, very surprised if I watch races, especially when I’m at the track, and I’m not wishing I was out there and not wishing I was competing and stuff like that,” Ricciardo recently explained on the In The Fast Lane podcast.

“I think that’s also the beauty of next year and having that time off, it’ll give me that hard answer, you know, [of] what I truly want and also I could watch round one and I’ll be like, ‘I don’t want to sit out this whole year’, and then that will just build into something probably really positive for me over the course of ’23.

“And then if an opportunity arises in ’24, then I feel like I’ll just be foaming at the mouth.”

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