Daniel Ricciardo may not have a seat for the upcoming Formula 1 season, but the charismatic driver will still be involved in the sport during 2023.
The Australian has returned to his former team Red Bull, signing on as their third driver.
The Sporting News takes a closer look at Ricciardo’s new role.
MORE: ‘I felt for him’: Ricciardo supportive of Piastri despite McLaren exit
What is Daniel Ricciardo’s role at Red Bull?
Ricciardo has landed the role of Red Bull’s third driver for the 2023 F1 campaign.
His role is flexible, but key responsibilities include testing, simulator work and commercial activity.
This will likely see him become the face of the Red Bull F1 team if the full-time drivers – Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez – are unavailable for certain events.
Riccardo drove for Red Bull from 2014 to 2018, picking up seven wins during that period.
When you take into account his bubbly personality, racing experience and history with the team, he is the perfect fit for the role.
In fact, he has already been out and about representing Red Bull, most recently appearing at the team’s official car launch in New York City.
Daniel Ricciardo outlines what’s in store for him this season at Red Bull 👇 pic.twitter.com/JlH24iGeN4
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) February 3, 2023
The Australian’s new job, however, is not to be confused with the reserve driver role.
That position is being filled by Liam Lawson this year, with the young Kiwi ready to step in if either Verstappen or Perez are unable to race during a given race weekend.
What happened to Daniel Ricciardo? Why the Australian was dropped by McLaren
After joining McLaren in 2021 on a three-year contract, Ricciardo only managed one podium finish – an extraordinary victory at the Italian Grand Prix in 2022.
His first season in papaya was slightly underwhelming, finishing eighth in the standings with 115 points.
However, it was his second season that saw McLaren push to replace the Australian, finishing 11th with a disappointing 37 points.
Ricciardo and McLaren mutually agreed to cut the Australian’s deal short midway through the 2022 season, with Ricciardo departing the team at the end of the year.
When asked if he has been able to pinpoint the factors behind his struggles, Ricciardo explained to the In the Fast Lane podcast that he got into a cycle of confusion, negativity and overanalysis.
“It’s something that I’ve certainly thought about,” he said.
“I feel that now the season has ended I’ve already slowly let it go. But I’m sure I’ll still think about it over time because it is a little bit of a – I don’t want to say a mystery – but the kind of continuous struggles I had were, at least for me, very foreign.
“We all have our bad races, but to have the amount that I did, and the level that it was at times, like a second a lap off the pace, I’d scratch my head.
“I think already last year, during the summer break, it occurred to me that I was driving very consciously. It wasn’t natural anymore. I was one step behind.
“That was where I was like, ‘I think we’re trying to do too much.'”
Who has replaced Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren?
Ricciardo’s seat at McLaren has been filled by fellow Australian Oscar Piastri.
The 21-year-old was Alpine’s F1 reserve driver in 2022 but will wear papaya this season following a controversial and complicated contract saga.
With that drama now seemingly in the rear-view mirror, the Melbourne-born driver will be focused on replicating strong performances that saw him win the F2 and F3 championships in consecutive years (2020 and 2021).
Notably, he is managed by fellow countryman and former F1 driver Mark Webber.
Piastri will partner Lando Norris, who will race in his fifth season for McLaren, despite being just 23 years old.
Will Daniel Ricciardo race in F1 next year? Potential teams for Australian driver
As it stands, Ricciardo does not have a seat on next year’s grid.
If he does search for a full-time spot in 2024, there are a few potential options.
Zhou Guanyu and Yuki Tsunoda’s contracts at Alfa Romeo and Alpha Tauri will expire at the end of the current season, meaning Ricciardo could slot in if either team wants to sign an experienced driver.
Elsewhere, there could be an opening at Williams if Logan Sargeant fails to impress in his first year at Williams.
Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell will also reach the end of their respective contracts at the end of this season, but a move to the Silver Arrows seems unlikely for Ricciardo.
When does the 2023 F1 season start?
The new F1 campaign will begin in Bahrain on March 5, 2023.
Abu Dhabi will again host the season finale, scheduled for November 26, 2023.
Will Daniel Ricciardo be at the Australian Grand Prix?
Ricciardo is a popular figure wherever he travels, but no place more so than Albert Park Circuit.
The Perth-born driver was the only Australian on the F1 grid for nearly a decade and has built up a large following thanks to his personality and on-track skills.
Whilst he won’t actually be racing in Melbourne this year, local fans will be hoping he makes an appearance at his home Grand Prix.
He has not confirmed that he will travel for the race, but it seems like a perfect opportunity for him to visit and enjoy the weekend without racing commitments.
The 2023 edition of the Australian Grand Prix will take place on April 2.