Daniel Ricciardo has officially returned to Red Bull as the team’s third driver for the 2023 Formula 1 season.

Ricciardo has been a free agent since McLaren confirmed he would be leaving the team at the end of the season, paving way for countryman Oscar Piastri to join the Woking-based outfit for next year.

Despite considering the remaining options on the grid, Ricciardo announced he would not race in F1 next season and revealed his plan to take up a reserve role – hoping it will lead to a full-time seat for 2024.

Ricciardo’s availability saw him linked with becoming Mercedes’ reserve driver, but while there was interest, talks did not materialise to a progressive stage.

A move back to Red Bull – where Ricciardo drove for five seasons between 2014 and 2018 – was speculated, and Helmut Marko even claimed the deal was done over the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend.

Although Red Bull boss Christian Horner stressed in Abu Dhabi a deal had not been agreed, he indicated Ricciardo’s return was close to being finalised.

On Wednesday, Red Bull officially announced Ricciardo would re-join the team as a third driver, and would assist it “with testing and sim work, as well as commercial activity”.

“It is great to bring Daniel back in to the Red Bull family,” said Horner. “He has enormous talent and such a brilliant character; I know the whole factory is excited to be welcoming him home. I

“n his role as test and third driver, Daniel will give us the chance to diversify, assisting in the development of the car, aiding the team with his experience and knowledge of what it takes to succeed in F1.

“We’re very pleased to be working with Daniel again and look forward to everything he will bring to the Team in 2023.”

During his previous stint at Red Bull, Ricciardo enjoyed plenty of highs points, winning seven grand prix’s and finishing third in the drivers’ championship twice in 2014 and 2016.

The Australian said the prospect of being able to combine his role as third driver and take a year out of the sport was “hugely appealing”.

“The smile says it all, I’m truly excited to be coming back home to Oracle Red Bull Racing as their Third Driver in 2023,” said Ricciardo.

“I already have so many fond memories of my time here, but the welcome from Christian, Dr Marko and the entire team is something I’m sincerely appreciative of.

“For me personally, the ability to contribute to and be surrounded by the best team in F1 is hugely appealing, whilst also giving me some time to recharge and refocus. I can’t wait to be with the team and support with simulator work, testing sessions and commercial activities.”