Horner: Ricciardo becoming ‘the Daniel that we knew’

Red Bull boss Christian Horner with Daniel Ricciardo

Red Bull boss Christian Horner with Daniel Ricciardo

Red Bull boss Christian Horner admitted Daniel Ricciardo was not the same driver he had been when he returned to Milton Keynes as third driver.

Ricciardo raced for Red Bull from 2014 until 2019, winning seven times.

He then spent two years with Renault before racing with McLaren in 2021 and 2022.

Opting not to race this year, he’s taken on the third driver role at Red Bull as he assesses whether he wants to return to the grid in the future.

As third driver, Ricciardo has performed simulator duties to support the team’s current race pairing of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

The Australian heralded the first of those as a key moment in his journey, while Horner noted the differences in the 33-year-old.

“When he first turned up after Abu Dhabi… I think the problem is, when you drive a car that obviously has its limitations, you adapt, and you try and adjust to extract the maximum out of that car,” Horner explained.

“It was clear when he came back that he had picked up some habits that we didn’t recognise as the Daniel that had left us two or three years earlier.

“But having had time off over Christmas and so on, and a chance to sort of reset when he’s come back and into the 2023 work, he’s hit the ground running.

“I think he likes the feel of the car in the virtual world, which seems to correlate well with what we’re seeing in the actual world.

“I think he’s desperate to get a run in the car at some point to validate that.

“But we’re certainly seeing him getting back to being far more reminiscent of the Daniel that we knew.”

Ricciardo is set to tackle the famed Nurburgring Nordschleife in September.

It is expected to follow at least one outing as part of Pirelli’s ongoing tyre testing.

Ricciardo hopes to drive the current RB19 at Silverstone in the first of those mid-season before a potential second outing in Monza later in the year.

He will also perform some show runs for Red Bull alongside ongoing simulator work and marketing commitments for the team.

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