Christian Horner believes that Daniel Ricciardo is showing signs of returning to the calibre of Formula 1 driver that had left Red Bull in 2018.
Following his departure from McLaren at the end of last season, Ricciardo elected to take on a 'third driver' role at Red Bull in order to take a break from racing.
It's the first F1 season without Ricciardo in eleven years, and the popular Australian is has been tackling simulator work and promotional activities for the team so far this year.
When asked about Ricciardo's progress since joining the team, Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner said that the driver they "didn't recognise" was now returning to form, and is now "desperate" to jump back in the car.
Viewed by others:
"I think the problem is when you drive a car that obviously has its limitations, you adapt and you try and adjust to extract the maximum out of that car," Horner told media, including RacingNews365.com.
"It was clear when he came back that he picked up some habits that we didn't recognise as the Daniel that had left us two or three years earlier.
"But having had time off over Christmas and had a chance to reset, when he's come back and got into the 2023 work he's hit the ground running, and I think he likes the feel of the car in the virtual world, which seems to correlate well with what we're seeing in the actual world.
"I think he's desperate to get a run in the car at some point to validate that, but we're certainly seeing him getting back to being far more reminiscent of the Daniel that we knew."
Championship leader Max Verstappen admitted earlier in the weekend that he was still feeling the effects of an illness that disrupted his Saudi Arabian GP weekend.
With Red Bull having the luxury of being able to call up any of the AlphaTauri drivers, reserve driver Liam Lawson or Ricciardo in the event of a driver absence, Horner was asked if the Australian would be ready to jump in one of their race cars.
"I'd say it's about 10 minutes away from being ready. He's in good shape," added Horner.
"He came back looking a bit skinny but he's looking healthier now, and I think that he's training hard and he's ready to go given the chance."
Join Balve Baines, RacingNews365.com journalist Michael Butterworth and Dieter Rencken, Editorial Director of RacingNews365.com, to discuss the key talking points ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.