Australian F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo has shared the reason behind snubbing Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton by taking a reserve role with rivals Red Bull instead. The 33-year-old spent four successful seasons at Red Bull taking seven race wins and wanted to return to familiar surroundings.
After McLaren terminated Ricciardo’s contract a year early due to poor results the Australian was left without an F1 seat for next year. Keen to remain in the sport Mercedes and Red Bull both expressed an interest in signing the popular figure as a reserve driver.
The charismatic driver chose a Red Bull return and announced his decision last week stating that he was “excited to be coming back home”. Speaking on the In the Fast Lane podcast, Ricciardo has now explained why he chose Red Bull over their rivals.
He said: “So there were talks with Mercedes as well, and I was also appreciative of their engagement as well, because there was certainly an appetite for that. It kind of stalled a little bit, and then the Red Bull stuff started to make more and more sense and had more and more legs, and then it naturally progressed as it did.”
After spending two years at Renault and two years at McLaren the Australian felt he needed some ‘familiarity’ as he bids for a full-time driver’s seat in 2024. He added: “I’ve obviously jumped around a bit in the last two years, and maybe a bit of familiarity a bit of familiarity would be good for me, to just go back and work with people I’ve worked with before and obviously a car — I appreciate the cars have changed now — that I gelled very well with.
“Just kind of jumping back and thinking about going to the sim work and doing all that, it just felt like this is probably the environment that will just settle me in best and make me figure out what’s the next step beyond this and what I really want after 2023.” Ricciardo joins Red Bull as test and third driver behind two-time world champion Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
During his previous time with the manufacturer Mercedes were the dominant force in F1 but last season Red Bull turned the tables on their rivals. At that time Ricciardo admitted having conversation with the rival manufacturer but has once again snubbed them.
He added: “I think there was a part of me as well where of course even when I was at Red Bull, Mercedes was always the team. Of course they were always dominating, it was a team I was looking at and whatever. I had some conversations with them back in the day, and to have a few more now was nice.”