Daniel Ricciardo says an F1 return with Red Bull would mark a 'fairytale' comeback to the sport, but also a dream farewell - a prospect accelerated by Sergio Perez's ongoing struggles over the past three races. Long considered an incredibly outside chance to make a comeback with the team currently dominating the F1 standings, Ricciardo's prospects have been enhanced by the Mexican star's struggles at Monaco, Spanish and Canadian grands prix.
The Aussie driver, winner of eight F1 grands prix - seven with Red Bull and one with McLaren, will still be a surprise move should Red Bull opt to move on from Perez in the future. He has however, indicated a willingness to return to Alpha Tauri - formerly known as Toro Rosso - where he enjoyed his first full-time drive in F1.
He has previously indicated his preference would be to drive for a team capable of winning a championship, however the options at Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari, the three most likely teams to be in such a position are thin on the ground. Even at Red Bull, he would be a surprise pick over current Alpha Tauri driver Yuki Tsunoda, as well as New Zealand driver Liam Lawson, who is waiting in the wings for an F1 opportunity.
“This for me would be like the fairytale,” he told ESPN of a return with Red Bull. “Honestly, the fairytale ending [would be] to finish my career here if I could have it all my own way.
“But we’ll see. I’ll probably have to work my way up a little bit, but it’s really nice to be back here.”
Ricciardo was welcomed back into the fold at Red Bull in a testing and promotional capacity this year, after making way at McLaren for fellow Australian driver Oscar Piastri late in 2022. Piastri's arrival came after a messy split with Alpine, who had supported the F2 and F3 champion's junior career and had hoped to put him in the seat vacated by Fernando Alonso last year.
Christian Horner hopes Daniel Ricciardo won't 'whimper out' of F1
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said earlier this year that he had been left surprised by the driver who came back to the team after stints with Renault (now Alpine) and McLaren. Ricciardo endured well-documented struggles with McLaren in 2022, resulting in the contract that would have seen him through to the end of the 2023 season cut short in favour of bringing in the highly-rated Piastri.
“Well, we brought him back because I felt that, you know, Daniel wasn’t done with Formula 1,” Horner said. “And to see him just whimper out of the sport wouldn’t have been right.
“So I think he fell out of love with Formula 1 over the last couple of years. Certainly, the Daniel that came back at the end of last year wasn’t one that we recognise, you know, the big smile and the big personality.
“I think he’s gradually refinding his love for the sport. He’s finding his passion for driving again. And we’ll see where that — what opportunities that presents for him.
“But I think the first thing for him is to rediscover his mojo, his passion for the sport and his inner dog. So we’re going to give him a test in a few weeks’ time and see — you know, see what he does.”
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