‣ Daniel Ricciardo confirmed that he was very close to Max Verstappen’s time during his test at Silverstone, leading to his return to AlphaTauri.
‣ Ricciardo started 2023 as Red Bull Racing’s third driver, primarily for marketing purposes after his time at McLaren.
‣ After a Pirelli test for Red Bull following the British Grand Prix, Ricciardo’s impressive time led to Helmut Marko saying goodbye to Nyck de Vries and bringing Ricciardo back to F1.
‣ The successful test and Ricciardo’s performance also brought a smile back to Christian Horner’s face, the Red Bull Racing team boss.
Daniel Ricciardo recently confirmed something interesting. He was pretty darn close to Max Verstappen’s time during a test at Silverstone. This fact prompted Helmut Marko to bid farewell to Nyck de Vries, and instead, welcome Ricciardo back to AlphaTauri.
Ricciardo began 2023 as the third driver for Red Bull Racing. It was mainly a marketing gig after his dramatic stint at McLaren. The Aussie wanted to take a breather, not race for a year. But, you know what they say about old habits. The itch to race came back.
He spent some time in the simulator, getting back into the groove. Then, Ricciardo finally got a chance to hit the track.
The British Grand Prix had just wrapped up. A Pirelli test for Red Bull was on the cards. Ricciardo was itching to get back on the track. Red Bull gave him the green light. It was his moment to shine, and boy, did he!
Rumours had been swirling that Ricciardo was fast. He confirmed these whispers himself on the Beyond the Grid podcast.
Ricciardo’s speed was almost on par with Verstappen’s. After a spin on his first lap, Ricciardo came in for a new set of tyres after 10 laps. He said, “We put FP2 fuel in the car. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. The first timed lap I did was on the money. It was a few hundredths off Max’s pole time.”
Verstappen had clocked 1.26.720 for pole position that weekend. Sergio Perez didn’t make it to Q2. Ricciardo’s time was so impressive that Marko immediately picked up the phone. He bid adieu to Nyck de Vries. Ricciardo had to return to F1, and pronto.
Ricciardo was all smiles after the test. He said, “I treated it obviously like a qualifying lap. I just had that feeling in the car and that confidence. There were elements of the car that felt so familiar. I kind of just knew what it could do and what it was capable of. Crossing the line when I looked at the time, I was like, oh, I don’t know if I was expecting to go that quick.”
Christian Horner, the Red Bull Racing team boss, was also pleased. He’s a fan of Ricciardo and was hoping to see the Aussie’s smile return with the test. And return it did.
In other news, there are doubts over Perez again. Apparently, there’s an ‘option in Ricciardo contract for early ’24”.