Formula One: Ricciardo returns to Red Bull as F1 test and third driver

Australian Daniel Ricciardo returns to Red Bull from McLaren, where he struggled to match teammate Lando Norris. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON – Australian Daniel Ricciardo will be Red Bull’s test and third driver next season, the championship-winning Formula One team said on Wednesday.

The Australian raced for Red Bull from 2014 to 2018 after two years at sister team Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) and returns from McLaren, where he struggled to match teammate Lando Norris.

In his years with Red Bull, he won seven races and finished third in the drivers’ standings twice.

After leaving the team, Ricciardo raced two seasons with Renault and two with McLaren, winning the Italian Grand Prix in 2021.

“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,” the eight-time race winner said.

“I already have so many fond memories of my time here.

“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.”

The move had been widely flagged ahead of last weekend’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with the team only waiting for him to sign.

Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff had confirmed they had held talks with Ricciardo over the third driver role but noted that the Australian was talking to other teams.

Ricciardo, who was teammate to now two-time world champion Max Verstappen in his previous stint at Red Bull, will support the team with simulator work, testing and commercial activities.

He said in Abu Dhabi that he would not be attending all the races next season, with a record 24 rounds scheduled.

“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,” said team boss Christian Horner.

Red Bull’s 2023 race line-up remains Verstappen and Mexican Sergio Perez.

Horner said in Abu Dhabi that Ricciardo was not in the frame to replace Perez. REUTERS, AFP

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