A fit and well Daniel Ricciardo would be ready to race for Red Bull in Formula 1 at the drop of a hat if required, team boss Christian Horner told reporters in Melbourne.
After departing McLaren at the end of last year’s championship, Ricciardo is taking a sabbatical from F1 this season as Red Bull’s third driver behind champion Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
The eight-times Grand Prix winner, one of the sport’s most popular characters, had “thrown himself” into his new role, Horner said ahead of the Australian Grand Prix on Friday: “I’d say he’s about 10 minutes away from being ready to race.
“He’s in good shape. He’s kept himself fit and well. He’s training hard and he’s ready to go if given a chance. It must be very tough for him not being a race driver this weekend, but he’s thrown himself into and embracing this new role. Hopefully, he’ll rediscover his love for the sport,” added Horner.
Ricciardo claimed seven of his eight race wins during his 2014-18 stint with Red Bull before a barren two years at Renault and two difficult seasons with McLaren.
Team bosses believe Daniel still has a lot to offer F1
The 33-year-old old has not decided on his future, an told media at Albert Park: “The signs are pointing towards getting back on the grid. I feel like that’s where I’m tracking, at least in my head, and just a few other habits that I’m having or doing is pointed towards that.”
Other F1 team bosses said Ricciardo would generate plenty of interest if he was motivated to return to racing.
“Everybody is wanting to speak with Danny after a year off, maybe he knows again what he wants to do and he will be interesting for everybody in F1,” Haas team principal Guenther Steiner told reporters.
Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer confirmed his outfit had discussions with Ricciardo last year about bringing him in for the 2023 season before opting for Pierre Gasly: “I think, like Guenther does, he’s a fantastic racing driver, he’s still young and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s back racing in the future.
F1 stats show that Ricciardo competed in 232 Grands Prix, finishing 32 times on the podium, eight times as a winner. His last victory was at 2021 Italian Grand Prix for McLaren, his other seven victories were with red Bull. (Reporting by Ian Ransom)