Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo at 2022 McLaren launch
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Daniel Ricciardo has been warned his F1 career could be over if he doesn’t take his final opportunity at turning things around, according to David Coulthard. The Scot claimed the ex-McLaren driver’s career could be “wrapped up” if he can’t rebuild in 2023.
Coulthard seemed to back the Australian’s return to a familiar environment with a Red Bull return already confirmed. Ricciardo will become the team’s third driver for 2023 with a range of simulator work and promotional activities.
His Red Bull deal does not include any details on securing a 2024 race seat at the team despite Ricciardo previously admitting returning to the grid was his aim. Coulthard explained: “Daniel knows now having had a year of us seeing his performance not being where we all knew it could be at McLaren relative to Lando [Norris], it just didn’t look like the Daniel of old.
“So this is about him trying to rebuild. He’s got a great brand, he’s got a big legacy with Red Bull. He was one of the most exciting, fast drivers at that period of his life, he left the family to go off and try to make it big elsewhere, that didn’t work, he’s come back to the family.
“So if he can get his mind back to what it was that was giving him success in the past [then] Daniel has an opportunity to come back. But if this opportunity doesn’t manifest itself, then that’s probably his grand prix career wrapped up.” Ricciardo was ditched by Red Bull over the summer after the team opted to sign highly-rated rookie Oscar Piastri.
The British manufacturer battled with French constructor Alpine over the ex-F2 star, with McLaren coming out on top at a meeting of the F1 Contract Recognition Board (CRB). Controversially, the CEB revealed Piastri had signed a deal in early July, weeks before McLaren parted ways with Ricciardo.
In a major blow to the eight-time race winner, Ricciardo had pledged his commitment to make his McLaren tenure work weeks after Piastri put pen to paper on the contract. Ricciardo recently admitted he would know early on next season whether or not he wanted to make a race return.
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He said: “I would be very, very surprised if I watch races, especially when I’m at the track, and I’m not wishing I was out there and not wishing I was competing and stuff like that.
“I think that’s also the beauty of next year and having that time off, it’ll give me that hard answer, you know, [of] what I truly want and also I could watch round one and I’ll be like, ‘I don’t want to sit out this whole year’, and then that will just build into something probably really positive for me over the course of ’23. And then if an opportunity arises in ’24, then I feel like I’ll just be foaming at the mouth.”
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