Horner on Ricciardo’s return to Red Bull: “He picked up some habits that we didn’t recognise”

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Photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool

Since Ricciardo’s departure from Red Bull in 2018, the Aussie hopped over to Renault (now Alpine) for two seasons where he claimed two P3 finishes, and more famously Cyril Abiteboul’s first tattoo.

In 2021, the man from Perth made the move over to McLaren where a miraculous win at the Italian Grand Prix was followed by his famous team radio – “For anyone who thought I left… I never left.” Silencing the critics. Nevertheless, Daniel Ricciardo is still yet to live up to his radio message as since then, has only finished in the points 10 times from 30 races.

Ditching the difficult MCL36 and returning to Milton Keynes after the 2022 season, the 8-time Grand Prix winner now serves as a reserve driver for Red Bull. Ricciardo made his first appearance for Red Bull at last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix for the first time since 2018, and to no surprise was probably the driver who signed the most autographs that weekend, even without being in a full-time role.

Team Principal Christian Horner was asked about the Aussie’s return to Milton Keynes and how important it has been for the team.

“It’s great to have him back in blue and be in the team.

“This is the first Grand Prix he’s attending this year, and he’s really throwing himself into it.

“Daniel’s just a positive energy to have around and it’s great to see him get his mojo back, to see that big smile on his face and he lights up a room when he walks in.”

When asked about Ricciardo’s shortcomings with McLaren and why it didn’t work out Horner said: “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.

“It was clear when he came back, that he picked up some habits that we didn’t recognise as the Daniel that had left us.”

Alongside his return to the F1 paddock, questions about a possible return to the grid for the Australian is on the cards, with some people speculating that we could see him return to a full-time drive even as early as next year.

Horner commented on the situation saying: “(Daniel) had time off over Christmas, and so on and a chance to reset.

“When he’s come back and got into the 2023 work, he’s hit the ground running and 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 and validate that.”

McLaren team principal Zak Brown is also keen to see Ricciardo back on the grid: “Hopefully Daniel will get an opportunity to go and try and win his ninth Grand Prix and many more, because I think we’d all love to see him back on the grid on a regular basis.”