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Daniel Ricciardo, Christian Horner, Red Bull, 2023

Brown: Red Bull gives Ricciardo best option for quick F1 comeback

Ricciardo returned to Red Bull for the 2023 season as a reserve driver after leaving McLaren due to an unsuccessful time at the Woking team

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McLaren boss Zak Brown believes that with Daniel Ricciardo returning to Red Bull, it gives the Australian the best chance of returning to Formula 1 as a full-time driver.

F1 Grand Prix of Abu DhabiABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 20: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) McLaren MCL36 Mercedes on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on November 20, 2022 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Ricciardo struggled significantly during his two years at the Woking outfit (Image Credit: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Ricciardo parted ways with McLaren at the end of the 2022 season, despite having a contract until 2023 with the Woking team. The partnership ultimately failed due to the expectations in performances not being met.

The Australian was thoroughly beaten in both seasons by younger teammate Lando Norris. The 33-year-old did not feel comfortable in the MCL36, resulting in him not being able to lean on the car.

Lots of people have questioned Ricciardo’s move back to Red Bull after leaving the Austrian team in 2018. However, McLaren CEO Zak Brown believes that Red Bull can give the Australian the best chance to return to the grid.

Ricciardo can replicate what De Vries did

The American used the example of Nyck de Vries’ performance in Monza. The Dutch driver stepped in for Alex Albon, delivering an impressive ninth place finish. The performance in Monza landed the 27-year-old a seat at AlphaTauri for the 2023 season.

De Vries had a lot of experience in a Formula 1 car as a Mercedes reserve driver in the 2022 season. The Dutchman drove for: Williams, Mercedes, and Aston Martin. The 27-year-old also had a private test session with Alpine.

F1 Italian Grand PrixNyck de Vries of Williams during the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix race at Circuit Monza, on September 11, 2022 in Monza, Italy
De Vries impressed many teams with his ninth place finish at the 2022 Italian Grand Prix (Image Credit: Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“Look at what happened with Nyck with one good session,” said Brown. “All of a sudden he became hot property.

“So, if one of those guys [at Red Bull] couldn’t race for some reason, and he [Ricciardo] hopped in and all of a sudden he took that car to where it is now, it can just turn on a dime.”

Is Red Bull reserve better than Haas full-time?

Brown was asked by whether joining Red Bull as a reserve was a better option than going to Haas for a full-time seat. The American responded:

“It’s hard to tell. In one sense if you go to Haas and then you give it to [Kevin] Magnussen that’s one way to kind of get back on the radar.”

The McLaren boss then mentioned about the possibility of stepping in for either Verstappen or Perez. The American further emphasising the possibility of competing in a race if a driver gets COVID-19.

“The other is a [Red Bull] driver gets COVID, you’re in a race-winning car, you go out to win the race, and you’re back on the grid. So I think it’s hard to say which will create the best opportunity.”

Brown “surprised” no other team snapped Ricciardo up

The American admitted that he was shocked that Ricciardo wasn’t snapped up by another teams. It was made clear that the Australian was available in the summer when McLaren made the announcement.

“I’m surprised some of the other teams that looked for drivers didn’t select him,” he said. “But also, I think there were certain teams he wasn’t interested in driving for. So maybe they would have selected him.

“But he clearly wants to stay in the game. He won Monza last year; eight races is a lot of races to win. So it’s in there, we just weren’t able to unlock it. And hopefully in another environment, something will unlock it, because I think we’d like to see Daniel on the grid.”

F1 Grand Prix of ItalyMONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 12: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and McLaren celebrates in parc ferme after winning the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 12, 2021 in Monza, Italy.
Ricciardo celebrating in Parc Ferme after winning the 2021 Italian Grand Prix (Image Credit: Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Ricciardo has proven that, with the right car, the Australian can be one of the best on the grid. The 33-year-old’s driving style suited the Red Bull car’s philosophy to a tee. The Red Bull reserve driver won seven times with the Austrian team.

Ricciardo also performed excellently at Renault, finishing fifth in the 2020 drivers’ championship. Furthermore. the Australian still managed to win a race with McLaren. The former McLaren driver lead a McLaren one-two ahead of Lando Norris at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix in Monza.

Do you think Daniel Ricciardo made the right choice in joining Red Bull again – this time as a reserve driver?

Feature Image Credit: @redbullracing on Twitter

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