Daniel Ricciardo has admitted he was nervous about returning to the Red Bull set-up last year following his initial departure at the end of 2018.
Ricciardo opted to walk away from the Red Bull family to take on a new challenge, first joining Renault in 2019 before switching to McLaren in 2021.
His stint at McLaren was a struggle and saw him depart after just two seasons. He then returned to Red Bull as a third driver for this year's campaign.
Ricciardo eventually found himself back behind the wheel of a race seat when he was fitted into the AlphaTauri drive in place of a struggling Nyck de Vries midway through the campaign.
The Australian has stated that he was unsure about linking up with his old team as he questioned how his former colleagues would view his return.
“It was the end of last year, once the season was done I jumped on the simulator [at Red Bull], I guess it was sometime in December before I went home for Christmas,” he told the Beyond The Grid podcast.
“I was also nervous because I'm stepping back into an environment where I knew Christian [Horner] was very open doors, but I didn't know how other people at Red Bull felt about me coming back into the family.
“So I was I was also a little bit nervous with that.
“Obviously, there was me telling them that I was leaving [in 2018], that's going to have its effect. But I think in the second half of 2018, I think we got over it as best as we could.
“So it didn't end sour or bad. But of course, I understand why there can be hurt or confusion by it. It's not like the team never offered me something they did. Turning that down and going somewhere else, I understand that.”
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Return after a tough year
Ricciardo highlighted that the initial simulator test didn't go as planned as he struggled with thoughts over how Red Bull members would accept him off the back of two disappointing seasons.
“I'm obviously coming off a pretty low season,” he said. “I'm walking into the team that's won the championship, so I thought are they going to be like, 'Who's this washed up kid?' or 'Are they going to be happy to see me back and happy to try and resurrect me a little bit?'.
“So there were a lot of things that then made getting on the sim the first time feel a little bit [nerve-wracking].
“I only saw how low I was after the fact. Walking into the factory that day, I was definitely a bit nervous. But there was a part of me which was excited as well because I realised maybe this was another chance.
“I was like, 'who better to do it with than the team that really got me here in the first place'.
“The sim that day, it didn't go particularly well. And then obviously I went home for Christmas. and had all this time off.”
Ricciardo soon began to get more comfortable back at Red Bull, aided by working with familiar faces from his first stint with the team.
“My first sim day was probably the day before the Friday practice [in Bahrain],” he said. “I quickly became invested in it again, and I think that's definitely [due to] the environment as well.
“Being back working with Simon Rennie who was my engineer for all my time at Red Bull, all my sim days had been with him.
“There were a lot of people who were from my time and they hadn't moved on. They'd stayed and they'd gone through the highs and lows.
“I had an appreciation of them sticking through it because it's not only drivers that can leave teams, everyone can jump around a bit. That was just a cool feeling.
“I really did feel like I was home again and even though I wasn't a race driver or anything there was just a lot that was going on which was giving me those good feelings back.”