Christian Horner has admitted that Daniel Ricciardo, who is returning to F1, is already eyeing a Red Bull seat for the future, describing it as the Australian’s “golden target” after securing a return with AlphaTauri.
Ricciardo will return to action at this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, taking over from Nyck de Vries, after half a year on the sidelines as Red Bull’s reserve driver, having parted ways with McLaren at the end of the 2022 campaign. .
It marks a full-circle moment for Ricciardo, who raced for Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) in the early stages of his F1 career before earning promotion to the senior Red Bull team, where he won seven Grands Prix.
In a recent appearance on the f1 nation podcast, Red Bull team boss Horner answered many questions about the driver shakeup, including what the long-term goal is with the 34-year-old Ricciardo.
Ricciardo comeback interview – “I’m not afraid of anything. I’m ready”
“I think, at the moment, there is only something set until the end of the season, so there are no thoughts or expectations beyond that,” he explained. “We have loaned it to AlphaTauri until the end of the year.”
With Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez contracted at Red Bull until 2024, Horner continued: “Obviously our drivers will be Max and Checo again next year, but it’s always good to have reserve talent.
“I think Daniel is looking at AlphaTauri… He strongly wants to pitch for that Red Bull 2025 seat, that is his golden goal. By going to AlphaTauri, I think he sees it as the best route for him to make his case for 2025.”
Horner was also asked what current Red Bull driver Perez might think about Ricciardo’s return, with the Mexican enduring a challenging qualifying run that has seen him quit in Q1 or Q2 at the last five events.
Ricciardo will return to the Hungarian grid after being loaned to AlphaTauri by Red Bull
“Checo has had a rough streak of Saturdays,” Horner said. “Five Saturdays in a row he has not reached Q3. I think some of it has been bad luck, some of it has been a bit self-inflicted…
“We are just trying to help him during that period. He is still second in the world championship, he has won two Grands Prix out of 10 this year, and he started the season in great shape. We just want to help you rediscover that way.
“Budapest will be a place where hopefully he can have an easy weekend. Then we have a Sprint race at Spa less than a week later, give or take. Hopefully Checo can rediscover the form he showed in Jeddah and Azerbaijan, where he was absolutely at the top of his game.”
Red Bull and AlphaTauri will arrive in Hungary at opposite ends of the builders classificationwith the Milton Keynes squadron in the lead and the Faenza operation bringing up the rear.