Ricciardo’s return to the Red Bull family “brought me back to normal Daniel”

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After a six-month hiatus from Formula One, the honey badger is gearing up for his return to the grid at the Hungaroring next weekend. Fans of Ricciardo around the world are eagerly anticipating his return to the track on Friday.

Photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool

Following the announcement that Nyck de Vries was axed from the team, Ricciardo is rejoining the grid as a driver for AlphaTauri, after putting down some impressive lap times at the Pirelli tyre test on Tuesday.

Ricciardo’s association with the team dates back to 2012, when he competed with Toro Rosso. This turn of events marks a fresh chapter in his racing career, rekindling his love for the sport. The familiar environment of the Red Bull family played a significant role in his resurgence.

The eight-time grand prix winner expressed excitement about his return, acknowledging that the more he immersed himself in the racing world throughout his break, the more he yearned to be back behind the wheel.

“The more races I started to attend, the more sim I started to do… certainly getting the bug back.”

Getting back in a formula car during the Pirelli tyre testing session at Silverstone on Tuesday seemed to solidify Ricciardo’s connection with the sport.

“It all felt very normal… It was familiar.”

Despite taking time away from the grid this year, Ricciardo was prepared for the possibility of an important call from the team. With 32 podiums under his belt, he was the most experienced driver to fit the bill.

As Red Bull Racing’s third driver, serving as a standby for Max Verstappen or Sergio Perez, Ricciardo mentioned the unpredictable nature of the sport, and how he was “staying ready at all times” because of Helmut Marko’s history of firing drivers during the season.

“I’ve been part of the Red Bull family for so long and I know that these things can happen.

“Even though for sure I was taking some time off this year, I was always in the back of my mind I knew maybe I will get a call.”

When Helmut Marko, advisor to Red Bull and AlphaTauri, contacted Ricciardo about replacing Nyck De Vries for the remainder of the 2023 season, the Australian driver was certain of his decision to re-join the team.

Recalling the moment, he said, “I didn’t really need to think much about it… There was no question that I was going to say yes.”

Having previously spoken out falling out of love with the sport, Ricciardo has attributed his renewed passion and confidence to his return to Red Bull, stating the team has “definitely helped” him rekindle his love for Formula 1”.

“If you’re competing in a sport where you’re trying to be the best in the world at something, it’s obvious that you need full confidence.”

The warm reception he received from the team and fans, and the familiarity of the Red Bull Racing family have played a significant role in reigniting his enthusiasm.

“The reception I had walking back into that team was, in a positive way, a little bit overwhelming.”

He spoke of his concerns when practicing via simulation driving, wondering “if the car would feel like it used to and if I was going to be, for lack of better words, like the old me.”

After completing a few sim sessions, the 34-year-old driver fell back in love with the sport.

“It just kind of brought me back to normal Daniel where I was falling back in love and ready to go again.”

The AlphaTauri team are currently last in this year’s Constructors’ Championship. But with Ricciardo’s imminent arrival, the race at the bottom of the pack is all to play for.