What’s riding on Ricciardo’s Red Bull test?

Daniel Ricciardo will return to an F1 cockpit at Silverstone on Tuesday in a take a look at for Pink Bull. On paper the outing is formally a Pirelli tyre take a look at, however it’s clear from conversations with Ricciardo and people near him and with key figures at Pink Bull that there is much more using on it than accumulating information for F1’s tyre provider.

Final month Ricciardo informed ESPN the “fairytale” end to his F1 career would be a return to Red Bull in the future. As reported beforehand, sources have informed ESPN that the Australian driver, nonetheless one of many grid’s hottest and marketable, is open to the prospect of a yr on the firm’s second crew, AlphaTauri, to show he’s over the 2 depressing seasons he spent at McLaren in 2021 and 2022.

Tuesday will likely be Ricciardo’s first run in an precise 2023 automobile since he returned to Pink Bull as its third driver (primarily the backup to Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez). It is going to be the crew’s first likelihood to see him again in that surroundings.

Pink Bull boss Christian Horner stated it can give the crew important perception.

“It is an essential take a look at for Pirelli, but it surely’s additionally going to be nice seeing him again in a Pink Bull automobile and seeing him the place he is at, each on tempo and mentally, bodily and to get his suggestions on this automobile as properly,” Horner stated at Silverstone on Sunday.

“So I feel it is a good alternative for him to get again behind a wheel of a automobile that is simply gained the British Grand Prix.”

In line with a report on F1.com final month, AlphaTauri have made it clear a 2024 seat is obtainable for Ricciardo ought to he need it. Dutch driver Nyck de Vries is underneath huge strain and could be the apparent candidate to make method.

Numerous experiences have steered De Vries won’t see out the season at AlphaTauri, however Ricciardo appears an unlikely candidate to switch him within the brief time period. Not solely has he discovered the time away from racing refreshing mentally however Ricciardo additionally has business obligations in 2023 that might be troublesome to get out of.

Seeing Ricciardo again on the second crew subsequent yr, when it ought to have a brand new title and a better hyperlink to Pink Bull, appears to be a robust risk. Though that may appear a backwards step for an eight-time race winner and a person thought of one of many grid’s finest drivers, there’s an apparent carrot on the finish of that choice. Perez’s Pink Bull contract runs till the top of 2024, so a profitable season on the firm’s junior outfit would open a path for him to return in 2025.

It’s understood that Ricciardo has dropped any ambitions of racing elsewhere as he doesn’t wish to miss out on the chance to drive for the crew prone to be the grid’s main outfit for the foreseeable future. His resolution to go away the crew for Renault in 2019 is already one in every of F1’s most debated (and criticised) driver strikes.

Something sooner than 2025 appears unlikely when contemplating a Pink Bull return. Perez’s kind since ending second at Could’s Miami Grand Prix has been appalling, however there isn’t any signal from something Pink Bull has stated privately or publicly that the Mexican driver is at the moment underneath menace of dropping his race seat. Though that would change if the downward spiral continues via the summer time months, at Silverstone Horner steered Perez simply needs one clean weekend on the upcoming Hungarian Grand Prix to wipe the slate clear.

On high of which are the doubts about Ricciardo himself. Bar his shock win on the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, the Ricciardo who drove for McLaren appeared like a shell of his former self. Horner has stated Ricciardo acts as if he is gotten his “mojo” again since returning to Pink Bull colors however the reigning world champions are unlikely to make a transfer as drastic as changing Perez with Ricciardo on the premise of some profitable Pirelli tyre checks — there isn’t any assure which model of Ricciardo they’d be getting.

Then there are the opposite driver choices Pink Bull might need out there a yr from now. The corporate has made overtures to Lando Norris earlier than, and former Pink Bull driver Alex Albon is at the moment within the type of his life at Williams.

In distinction to Pierre Gasly‘s failure to carry out in 2018, it’s clear when speaking to key figures at Pink Bull that Albon’s unsuccessful tenure with the crew was one thing it may have dealt with higher. It’s telling that Albon retained a hyperlink to Pink Bull when he first signed for Williams in 2022, and though that now not exists, the Thai driver has maintained a superb relationship with Horner and Helmut Marko since leaving.

Ricciardo’s title would possibly even not be on a shortlist for Pink Bull because it stands, which is why a yr at AlphaTauri is so important. Horner stated as a lot after Sunday’s race at Silverstone.

When requested about Ricciardo’s feedback a few dream Pink Bull return, Horner replied: “It isn’t one thing that we’re planning, that is for sure. It was proper to present him the chance this yr to stay inside the crew and hold him across the sport. I feel it might have been a loss to the game for him simply to vanish.

“I did not recognise the Daniel of the final couple of years, so I will be very to see what sort of job he does on Tuesday.”

Ricciardo is enjoying the lengthy sport. It was apparent when he left McLaren that his choices had been restricted, however it’s also clear he now feels assured he’s on the precise path to a return, nevertheless lengthy it would take.

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Printed : 2023-07-11 00:08:05

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