Lewis Hamilton opens up on difficult season for Mercedes
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Red Bull have confirmed that Daniel Ricciardo has returned to the team as their reserve driver for the 2023 season, putting an end to the recent speculation over a potential move to Mercedes. The much-loved Aussie star was dropped by McLaren after last weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and had been in talks with several teams over the possibility of taking up a back-up role ahead of next year.
Ricciardo was thought to have spoken to Mercedes regarding a role at the German team from next year onwards, with a view to taking up a race seat with the Silver Arrows or elsewhere for the 2024 season. However, a return to Red Bull had long been considered as the 33-year-old’s most likely course of action and it has been revealed that he will be back at the newly-crowned Constructors’ Championship winners when the new campaign gets underway.
The move will see Mercedes miss out on the opportunity to snap up Ricciardo after losing Nyck de Vries to Red Bull’s sister team AlphaTauri earlier this year. The latter signed a multi-year deal to replace Pierre Gasly at the Italian outfit from next season onwards after leaving his reserve driver role at the Silver Arrows in the aftermath of last weekend’s finale in Abu Dhabi.
Ricciardo took to Instagram on Wednesday to confirm his move back to Red Bull after spending his formative years in F1 with the team before departing to sign for Renault at the end of 2018. He 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.
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“I already have so many fond memories of my time here, but the welcome from Christian [Horner], Dr [Helmut] 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!”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner added: “It is 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.”
Ricciardo could only manage to secure an 11th-placed finish in the Drivers’ Championship standings in 2022, with the Perth native failing to emulate the superior performances of McLaren team-mate Lando Norris for the vast majority of the campaign. He did improve things in the second half of the season, though, and will be hoping to stay sharp over the course of next year in his new role at Red Bull as he eyes a potential return to the grid from 2024 onwards.
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