Red Bull’s Team Principal, Christian Horner, has hinted at the possibility of Daniel Ricciardo making a triumphant return to the Red Bull Racing team for the 2024 season. This speculation follows Sergio Perez’s retirement at his home Grand Prix in Mexico after a race that lasted just 14 seconds due to a collision with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc at the opening bend.
The Mexican driver’s early exit allowed Max Verstappen, Perez’s Red Bull teammate, to secure his record-breaking 16th win of the season. Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo, who has previously expressed his desire to return to Red Bull, put on a remarkable performance in his fourth comeback race. Ricciardo exceeded expectations, finishing seventh after qualifying fourth in his modest AlphaTauri machinery.
While Horner has stated that it is Red Bull’s “intention” to honor Perez’s contract for 2024, he did not confirm that Perez would continue with the team beyond this term. Notably, Horner showered praise on Ricciardo, describing the Australian’s performance as “remarkable.” This has sparked speculation that Ricciardo and Perez could potentially trade seats in 2024.
Horner stated, “Sergio has an agreement with us for next year, and our intention is for him to be in the car in 2024. We will give him all the support he needs to ensure he finishes second in the championship. It was great to see Daniel perform so well, and it endorses our decision to bring him back. I thought he was outstanding this weekend, and if it was not for the red flag, he would have finished further up the order. It was a remarkable performance, and he is back to his old self. He is relaxed and confident.”
Perez’s crash at the opening corner, potentially sensing this as his last chance to win on home soil, opened the door for Lewis Hamilton, who secured second place and reduced the deficit to Perez to just 20 points in the race for the runner-up in the championship.
Horner clarified, “There is no prerequisite that if he [Perez] doesn’t finish second, he is out of the team. It is not as binary as that. You have to look at the circumstances. It was a tough moment for him in front of his home crowd, and he was very emotional, but he wouldn’t be a racing driver if he didn’t go for the lead at his home race. It is a big loss for him in a car that was capable of being on the podium. He is a tough operator, and that is why he is in the car because mentally he has always been able to bounce back. He will brush himself down and turn it into motivation. He has the full support of the team.”
Daniel Ricciardo’s journey in Formula 1 has been a rollercoaster ride. He won seven times for Red Bull before making the surprising move to Renault in 2019 and subsequently joining McLaren. After enduring two challenging years, Ricciardo’s career appeared to be in jeopardy when he was released by McLaren at the end of last season. However, the 34-year-old Australian made a remarkable comeback, despite missing five races with a broken wrist, after being granted a second chance with Red Bull’s junior team, AlphaTauri. His seventh-place finish in Mexico marked AlphaTauri’s best result of the year.
Daniel Ricciardo will be back in action at the upcoming Brazilian Grand Prix, the first of three concluding rounds for the 2023 season. The motorsport world eagerly awaits further developments in this intriguing storyline surrounding his potential return to Red Bull for the 2024 season.