OPINION: Ricciardo made the proper transfer
Daniel Ricciardo in Crimson Bull clothes: It’s each an odd and comfortingly acquainted sight all on the identical time.
Some type of third or reserve driver function had been considered one of Ricciardo’s most important standards for his 2023 plans, and it had let to him being linked with a return to his former workforce in addition to with Mercedes, the latter gaining early momentum.
It definitely felt like a raffle to be focusing on such a task somewhat than a race seat with Haas that seemed very a lot an choice if he wished to open talks. However Ricciardo was eager to discover a steadiness that may permit him to reset and rediscover the starvation that has taken successful over the previous two seasons.
Solely Ricciardo can know what he’s feeling and wishes, however developments over the previous week have made his determination seem like the proper transfer on quite a lot of fronts.
The primary level truly has nothing to do with Ricciardo, McLaren or Crimson Bull in any respect. It’s about his former teammate at Renault, Nico Hulkenberg.
The German has returned to Components 1 with Haas after three years with no drive, and it’s not the truth that he’s been in a position to come again that stands out, however his feedback about his time away.
“For 2 years I wasn’t too burdened about it, I used to be additionally having fun with the life out of the driving seat,” Hulkenberg mentioned. “It’s way more relaxed, there’s different advantages, however then it kind of crept again – the will to come back again on the grid, to go racing, to kick ass! To be within the driving seat. So there was no worry.”
That’s what Ricciardo is searching for. Hulkenberg’s proven he was nonetheless a really fast driver in that point with all of his substitute appearances, however you’ve acquired to be totally dedicated to carry out on the highest degree. And after greater than a decade doing it, you may perceive that typically fatigue units in.
Plus there’s inner dynamics at Crimson Bull, with apparent stress between Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez even when the discussions after the Sao Paulo Grand Prix have apparently cleared the air.
Regardless of the catalyst, it was one thing that Verstappen had held onto because the early a part of the season, and Perez’s feedback after the race in Interlagos recommended there was some needle from either side.
In an interview with George Russell final weekend (that you simply’ll be capable to learn right here on RACER quickly), the newest grand prix winner admitted he has been having to adapt to the large quantity of additional advertising and marketing calls for that include being a Mercedes driver, and Ricciardo may need been in a position to assist lighten that load. However he would have been coming into a workforce the place the driving force line-up seems fully settled.
Christian Horner insists the identical is true of Crimson Bull, however Ricciardo’s addition not solely takes a number of the pressures off the race drivers by way of their commitments – the Australian being a massively in style substitute for sponsors and companions to make use of – however it additionally barely will increase it on Perez.
Nearly as good as Liam Lawson has been when finishing FP1 outings, the Kiwi is just not banging down the door to get into F1. That led to Crimson Bull turning attentions elsewhere to switch Pierre Gasly at AlphaTauri, bringing in Nyck de Vries from Mercedes of all locations. So regardless of the presence of the junior workforce, there was no person ready within the wings to maintain Perez on his toes.
Now, with Ricciardo, there’s.
For that to actually work, Ricciardo might want to present in simulator and testing periods that he has the flexibility to extract the identical kind of efficiency from the automotive that Crimson Bull was used to seeing from him earlier than he left in 2018, however he’s now acquired precisely the function that offers him that chance.
The potential is there to impress Crimson Bull, and the expertise will nonetheless be invaluable to any midfield workforce if Ricciardo’s future self decides he does have the starvation for any seat on the grid.
It’s not a race seat, however it’s the subsequent neatest thing, and it’d simply be the right place for Ricciardo to reignite his profession.