The Honey Badger is back
Daniel Ricciardo is back on the F1 grid less than half a season after his exit from the sport following a disappointing run of results with Mclaren that left the Australian struggling to match the pace of his younger team mate Lando Norris.
Ironically, it’s the poor run of form of another driver, Nyck De Vries, that is after providing Ricciardo with the chance to prove himself. Nyck has been unceremoniously dropped from Red Bull junior team, Alpha Tauri, less than a year into his debut season. Ricciardo’s return to Alfa Tauri, (the Italian outfit was known as Scuderia Torro Rosso when Ricciardo last raced for them *10 years ago*) marks a pivotal moment in his career. Is he there to act as a benchmark for his younger teammate Yuki Tsunoda, or is this the opportunity to repeat his path from a decade ago and graduate to the Red Bull senior team for the second time.
The prospect of a motivated Ricciardo with capable machinery underneath him would bring a tear of joy to even the coldest Formula One fan. The chance of him replacing an underperforming Checo Perez at Red Bull for the 2024 season, to line up against (by then certainly triple) World Champion Max Verstappen is enough to send us into a collective rapture. Daniel is the only driver that has ever beaten Max over a season as teammate, and operating at his prime is absolutely a match for the Dutch phenomenon in wheel-to-wheel combat. There are countless variables that stand between us and this Hollywood story coming to fruition, but if Daniel truly is embarking on the third act of his redemption arc, the world of Formula One will be all the better for it.