Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner is confident that Daniel Ricciardo has “rediscovered his mojo” amid his role as a third driver in Formula 1.

Ricciardo reunited with Red Bull following two difficult seasons with McLaren in 2021 and 2022.

The Australian has been working in a third driver role, carrying out simulator and marketing duties for the Milton Keynes-based outfit.

Previously, Riciciardo raced full-time for the team from 2014 to 2018, driving alongside blockbuster names such as Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen.

Ahead of the 2024 campaign, Ricciardo has highlighted his desire to return to the grid – however, limited seats are available for the 34-year-old.

One possibility that could arise for Ricciardo is a switch to AlphaTauri in a move that could facilitate a “fairytale” return to Red Bull to finish his F1 career.

Nyck de Vries’ future at the Red Bull sister squad has been called into question amid a difficult rookie campaign.

When asked if Ricciardo to AlphaTauri is a realistic possibility, Horner said: “Well, it’s still very early days, you know, for next year. 

“And I think that Daniel is under contract for the year. He’s going to be driving our car for the first time after the British Grand Prix. And he’s obviously a world-class driver. 

“He’s won what, seven Grands Prix in his career to date (sic, eight). 

“So I think the first thing will be to see how he performs and where his motivation is, and then from there, it’s a question for AlphaTauri as to, you know, their choices for the following season.”

Ricciardo’s half-year stint with Red Bull has seen him play a key role during the team’s dominant start to the 2023 campaign.

Ricciardo’s efforts will be rewarded at a Silverstone test later this month as Red Bull assists Pirelli with tyre testing.

However, Horner says that when he signed as a thrd driver, Ricciardo was near unrecognisable from the competitor that left it in 2018.

“When he first arrived after Abu Dhabi last year, it was a little bit of a shock because we, we didn’t really recognise him from the driver that had left us a few years earlier,” Horner said. 

“But he seems to have rediscovered his mojo, he’s been working hard on the simulator, he’s now extremely competitive in what he’s doing in the virtual world. 

“So, whether that crosses over into the real world, you know, we’ll see, albeit at a tyre test. We’ll get an impression as to the level that he’s performing at. 

“But certainly, you can see that there’s a spring coming back in his step.

“He’s done a pretty decent amount of mileage. I mean, he’s done pretty much… Most of the races that he’s not been attending he’s been back in the factory supporting on the sim.

“So, you know, he’s thrown himself into that, and has been giving very valuable feedback.”

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