Daniel Ricciardo has apparently been confirmed as Red Bull’s third driver for the 2023 Formula One season when Helmut Marko – the team’s agent – told Sky Sports Germany the Australian had signed for next year.
However, the former Austrian racing driver has since withdrawn these comments via WWOS.
It’s entirely possible that Marko has retracted his comments before Red Bull make an official announcement later this weekend that the F1 final will take place in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
MORE: Ricciardo crashes in opening lap in Brazil | F1 2023: Confirmed driver and team line-ups
“(Daniel) Ricciardo will be our third driver,” Marko initially told Sky Sports Germany at the Yas Marina Circuit.
“We have so many sponsors, we have to do show runs and stuff like that, so obviously he’s one of the most well-known and most suitable.”
Marko also shared that New Zealand driver Liam Lawson would join Red Bull in 2023 as the official reserve driver.
The 20-year-old, who currently drives for Carlin in Formula Two, appears to have earned a chance with the team after going through the Red Bull Junior Team system.
The simultaneous announcement by Ricciardo and Lawson further confuses the issue as it is unclear who would step in as the ‘third’ driver at any given race weekend.
Assuming the Kiwi youngster is confirmed in that role, Ricciardo could potentially find himself in a development driver mentoring role, where he would work closely with the team’s academy.
If Ricciardo joins Milton Keynes it would mean a return to the team he left for Renault at the end of 2018.
In 100 races with Red Bull, the 33-year-old has claimed an impressive seven wins and 29 podiums.
With current Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez coping in an ongoing strained relationship following the Brazilian Grand Prix, Sky Sports commentator Damon Hill has stressed that Ricciardo may be in the right place at the right time.
“It could get pretty interesting given the issues they seem to have had between Max and Sergio,” Hill said.
“Let’s say the toys get out of the stroller and there’s some sort of fallout there – Daniel Ricciardo could be in the best position (to fill a potential vacancy).
“It’s his home and he owes a lot to Red Bull so he’ll be very keen to be back in that herd.”
231 races ????️
1309 career points ????
333 Shoeys ????
32 podiums ????
8 wins ????
– Australian F1 Grand Prix (@ausgrandprix) November 18, 2022
Ricciardo will contest his final Grand Prix as a McLaren driver this weekend in Abu Dhabi.
While a full-time ride is now out of the question for next season, the Australian has indicated his intention to return to racing in 2024.
“I think the reality now is I won’t be on the starting lineup in 2023. I think it’s just trying to prepare for 24 now,” Ricciardo said in October.
“The way I look at it, it’s like I’m just taking a little break and, let’s say in terms of my F1 career, the full intention is for ’24.
“As fun or cool as it sounds to be a part of something else, the truth is I’m not ready mentally yet.
“I’m still so busy with this and I think a bit of a seat break will probably do me good.”