Daniel Ricciardo had previously said his return to the grid was motivated by sealing a return to Red Bull; watch the Dutch Grand Prix live on Sky Sports F1, with the track action under way on Friday and Sunday’s race starting at 2pm
Daniel Ricciardo says he wants to spend the remainder of his career within the Red Bull family even if he fails to earn a promotion from AlphaTauri to the senior team.
Having been let go by McLaren at the end of last season, Ricciardo signed up as Red Bull’s third driver for 2023 before making a surprise early return to the grid in place of Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri.
Ricciardo has repeatedly made it clear his ultimate desire is to earn a return to Red Bull, but has now made it clear he would favour staying with AlphaTauri over a move to any other team.
“I made it clear to the big boys that now I’m back in the Red Bull family, it’s the only place I want to be and stay,” Ricciardo told Sky Sports at this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix. “However much longer my career is, it’s where I want to, let’s say, end my career.
“I think going through a bit of change the last few years, it was all good and all part of the journey so to speak.
“But now coming back it feels like it’s the perfect way to kind of finish this second part of my career and of course the dream is to get back to the big team. But if it’s not that, I made it clear I want to be here.”
Ricciardo, who claimed seven of his eight F1 victories during his five seasons with Red Bull, produced impressive moments as he returned to the grid in Hungary and Belgium before the sport’s summer break.
Any change to the Red Bull driver line-up appears unlikely to come before the end of next season, with world champion Max Verstappen signed to a long-term deal and Sergio Perez’s contract running until the end of 2024.
It is at that point where Ricciardo hopes an opportunity could come, but his first task in mounting a case for his return is to outperform AlphaTauri team-mate Yuki Tsunoda, who has also been talked about as a potential candidate to replace Perez.
“It was really good to have a couple of races before the break,” Ricciardo added. “At first, when I got the news, in my head I was like, ‘OK, it would probably make more sense after the break. I get a few more weeks to kind of prepare and that’.
“But in the end I think having the two races was the best preparation because it gave me a lot to think about during the break and gave me a chance to catch up a little bit as well on race fitness and things like that.
“I’ve really been, let’s say been back in it now. I’m really loving it and I’m fully immersed. After Spa we did a debrief with the team and I was watching tons of on-boards and just trying to keep learning and figuring out where we’re at with the car.
“I did that for the first week after Spa and then switched off mentally, but physically I stayed pretty on shape.”
Chandhok, Hill surprised by Ricciardo comments
Sky Sports F1’s Karun Chandhok and Damon Hill analyse Ricciardo’s comments:
“I think he’s definitely hoping for that promotion to the big team,” Chandhok said.
“For me, I was somewhat surprised to hear him say that he would be content with staying at AlphaTauri for the rest of his career.
“This is a driver who not very long ago was a world championship contender we thought.
“Clearly, the two years at McLaren and the time away has given him a perspective of, ‘I would rather be in F1 than not and if that means with a midfield team. I will take that’.”
Hill added: “He’s back in, he’s got a chance. You’ve got to be in it to win it, and he’s got a chance to show what he can do.
“I would not personally have said, ‘I’m just thinking Red Bull’. I would say, ‘I’m here to compete, and I want every opportunity that can come my way’.
“You can show your loyalty, but you don’t have to say, ‘I’m going to stay here for the rest of my life’.”
Sky Sports F1’s live Dutch GP schedule
SATURDAY AUGUST 26
10.15am: Dutch GP Practice Three (session starts 10.30am)
12.10pm: F2 Sprint Race
1.15pm: Dutch GP Qualifying build-up
2pm: Dutch GP Qualifying
SUNDAY AUGUST 27
8.55am: F2 Feature Race
12.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday: Dutch GP build-up
2pm: THE DUTCH GRAND PRIX
4pm: Chequered Flag: Dutch GP reaction
5.30pm: Dutch GP highlights
Formula 1 returns after the summer break with the Dutch GP and all sessions will be live on Sky Sports F1 from this Friday. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW for just £26 a month for 12 months. Cancel anytime