Christian Horner has given further details of what Daniel Ricciardo's role at Red Bull will entail in 2023. Ricciardo was left without a seat on the grid following a mutual decision between himself and McLaren to terminate his multi-year contract early, meaning that he left the team at the end of the 2022 season following a difficult two-year stint. It was confirmed following the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that Ricciardo would take up the role of reserve driver at Red Bull, four years after he left the squad. Horner is hopeful that the position will help Ricciardo to rediscover his passion for the sport.
Horner: Ricciardo's Red Bull return made sense
"We were surprised to see Daniel be out on the open market," Horner told Australian outlet Speedcafe . "For us, [with him] having grown up with Red Bull, having nurtured him since being a junior, it made sense for us to bring him back into the fold. A driver with so much experience, and such a high profile. "I think that Daniel had fallen out of love a little bit with Formula 1. He's had a couple of really tough seasons, particularly this year. "For him to play a supporting role to the race drivers as our third driver – both back here in the factory and at events with all the commercial partners we have, as one of the most recognisable faces currently in and around Formula 1 – for us, it made a lot of sense. "Hopefully, in that process, Daniel will rediscover his passion for Formula 1." While Ricciardo has voiced his hopes of returning to the grid in 2024, Horner admits that there are currently no plans for that at Red Bull. "We certainly have no plans to utilise him other than in that third driver role, combined with the commercial activities that he'll be performing," Horner added.
What Ricciardo's Red Bull role will involve
In terms of what exactly Ricciardo's duties will involve, Horner has shed further light on the various aspects of the role. "Daniel will be attending some races where, obviously, he'll be our reserve driver for those events," the team boss explained. "He'll probably do a bit of tyre testing for us to help with the Pirelli programme that gets distributed around the teams. He'll be doing some work in the simulator. "So he'll be doing all of those activities and then, of course, with the commercial demands that we have from the myriad of sponsors and partners that we have. "Particularly with a much bigger presence in the US, where Daniel is now predominantly based. With three Grands Prix there next year, he's going to have a busy agenda for the season ahead." When asked if Ricciardo may contribute to the development of the Red Bull Powertrains department – with the team set to manufacture their own engines from 2026 – Horner answered: "Powertrains is still a little while away. "[It will be] three years before we see a Red Bull-designed power unit in the back of a car, so there's probably not too much he can add on that at the moment. "But it's the exciting project and 2026, in reality, is just around the corner."