Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo recently opened up about his return to Formula 1 and the challenges he faced with the “bad habits” that were highlighted by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. Ricciardo’s journey from McLaren’s disappointment to his resurgence with Red Bull’s third driver role in 2023 is a tale of redemption and self-discovery.
Upon his return to Red Bull as the third driver, engineers were tasked with addressing the errors Ricciardo made during his initial stint with the team. Reflecting on this, Ricciardo acknowledged the need for improvement, stating, “I think bad habits can just come in the form of a lack of confidence.”
Ricciardo’s return to Red Bull came after being axed from McLaren, following two underwhelming seasons. Speaking on the Beyond The Grid podcast, he revealed, “Don’t get me wrong, I was also nervous because I’m stepping back into an environment that, I knew Christian was very open doors, but I didn’t know how other people at Red Bull felt about me coming back into the family, into the team, so I was also a little bit nervous with that.”
Having left Red Bull five years ago to join Renault, Ricciardo admitted that nerves were heightened due to how he exited the team in 2018. He acknowledged the impact of his decision to leave but emphasized that the departure didn’t end on a sour note. Reflecting on the transition, he said, “I did have a contract available to me, so me turning that down and going somewhere else, I understand that.”
Ricciardo’s struggles were evident during his time with McLaren, where he was comprehensively outperformed by teammate Lando Norris in 2022. Discussing his confidence issues, Ricciardo admitted, “My confidence, I lost that… I was just a bit burnt out and I think obviously not madly in love with it.” The loss of passion and confidence prompted a period of self-reflection for the Australian driver.
Ricciardo’s fortunes changed when a successful test with Red Bull led to a full-time seat with AlphaTauri in the middle of the season. Despite facing injury setbacks, he retained his AlphaTauri drive for 2024 and harbors genuine hope of returning to Red Bull alongside Max Verstappen in 2025.