Daniel Ricciardo is set to return to Red Bull five years after his shock departure as the team’s third driver in 2023, according to Helmut Marko.
Back in August, it was confirmed Ricciardo would leave McLaren at the end of the season, and despite exploring other options to remain on the grid, the Australian revealed he would not be racing in F1 next year.
Ricciardo has instead turned his attention to securing a reserve driver role, which he hopes will lead to finding a seat for a comeback in 2024.
Once Ricciardo’s plan were made public, the eight-time grand prix winner was linked with both Mercedes and former team Red Bull, where he spent five seasons between 2014 and 2018.
While no formal announcement has been made on Ricciardo’s future plans, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko claimed he would be its third driver next year.
Speaking to Sky Germany after FP1 in Abu Dhabi, Marko said: “Ricciardo will be our third driver.
“We have so many sponsors, we have to do show runs and the like, so of course he’s one of the most high-profile and best-suited.”
Marko indicated Ricciardo’s role would mainly involve ambassador events, simulator work and shows runs, as he also confirmed Liam Lawson would be a reserve for both Red Bull and AlphaTauri in 2023.
Lawson, who has raced in Formula 2 the past two years, drove for Red Bull in first practice in Abu Dhabi, finishing fifth behind regular incumbent Sergio Perez.
“Lawson was unfortunately not as successful in Formula 2 as we had hoped, but he has already had a very good run in the AlphaTauri,” said Marko.
“He’s got potential. He’s going to drive Super Formula in Japan next year and be a reserve driver for Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri. So it’s up to him to make the step up there.”
Mercedes was known to be interested in signing Ricciardo in its ongoing search to find a reserve driver for next year following the departures of Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne from that role.
With Ricciardo poised to return to Red Bull, Mercedes could turn to Mick Schumacher after it was announced on Thursday he would be replaced by Nico Hulkenberg at Haas for 2023.