Red Bull return rumours make Ricciardo ‘smile’

Wed, 29 November 2023, 08:00

Nov.29 (GMM) Daniel Ricciardo, who voluntarily left Red Bull for 2019 to embark on his ill-fated adventures at Renault and McLaren, says he just smiles when he hears rumours linking him with a potential return to Red Bull’s top team.

“I think 12 months ago a lot of the rumours were normally negative,” the 34-year-old Australian said in Abu Dhabi.

Indeed, Ricciardo was dumped by McLaren for poor performance, his career only revived by Red Bull who brought him back to the grid mid-season in 2023 to replace the hapless rookie Nyck de Vries at the junior team Alpha Tauri.

His return to F1 was championed by Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner, triggering obvious rumours that Ricciardo was being lined up as Sergio Perez’s successor at the main team.

“Daniel is a great guy who was very badly advised earlier in his career,” Horner said recently.

“Everybody f***s up at some point and I think he recognised that he made a mistake.”

Rumours linking the Australian with becoming Max Verstappen’s teammate once again therefore bring a smile to Ricciardo’s face.

“Whether it’s a rumour or not, I would never have thought 12 to 18 months ago that it would ever be said that I one day might return to Red Bull,” he explained.

Red Bull bosses including Horner and Dr Helmut Marko have repeatedly stated that there is no truth to rumours Sergio Perez’s 2024 contract may not be honoured.

“Even though it’s just a rumour, I just didn’t think such a rumour could exist, so it makes me smile,” Ricciardo admitted.

“I don’t see it as pressure at all,” he added. “It just gives me a lot of courage that through the highs and lows, the ups and downs, if you stay on the straight and narrow, crazy things can happen.”

And he clarified that if the rumours one day turn out to be true, he’d be delighted.

“I said it would be a fairytale to end my career as a Red Bull driver, but I still use the word fairytale because I know it’s certainly not guaranteed.”

For now, he is all signed up to stay at Alpha Tauri next year with current teammate Yuki Tsunoda – a decision made by the Red Bull camp whilst Ricciardo was recovering from his recent broken hand.

“I’m very happy that I have a seat next year and I’m very happy that they signed me when I was on the sidelines crying about my hand,” Ricciardo smiled.

“At the end of the day, I’m just happy to be back in the Red Bull family and even though it’s not the big team, I’m just in a really good place here.”

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