Daniel Ricciardo was seemingly confirmed as Red Bull’s third driver for the 2023 Formula 1 season when Helmut Marko - the team’s advisor - told Sky Sports Germany that the Australian had signed on for next year.
However, the Austrian former racing driver has since retracted those comments, per WWOS.
It is entirely possible that Marko withdrew his remarks before Red Bull makes an official announcement later this weekend, with the F1 finale in Abu Dhabi to take place on Sunday.
“(Daniel) Ricciardo will be our third driver,” Marko initially told Sky Sports Germany at Yas Marina Circuit.
“We have so many sponsors, we have to do show runs and the like, so of course, he’s one of the most high-profile and best-suited.”
Marko also shared that New Zealand driver Liam Lawson would join Red Bull in 2023 as their official reserve driver.
Currently racing in Formula 2 for Carlin, the 20-year-old has seemingly earned an opportunity with the team after progressing through the Red Bull Junior Team system.
Announcing Ricciardo and Lawson simultaneously further confuses the issue, with it unclear as to who would step in as a ‘third’ driver on a given race weekend.
Assuming the Kiwi youngster is confirmed in that role, Ricciardo could potentially find himself in a mentorship role as a development driver, where he would work closely with the team’s academy.
If Ricciardo does make the move to Milton Keynes, it would mark a return to the team he left for Renault at the end of 2018.
In 100 races with Red Bull, the 33-year-old notched an impressive seven victories and 29 podiums.
With current Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez navigating an ongoing tense relationship following the Brazilian Grand Prix, Sky Sports commentator Damon Hill has highlighted that Ricciardo may find himself in the right place at the right time.
“It could be quite an interesting one if you think about the problems they have apparently had between Max and Sergio,” Hill said.
“Let’s say the toys go out of the pram and there is some sort of fallout there - Daniel Ricciardo could be in prime position (to fill a potentially vacant seat).
“It is his home, and he does owe a lot to Red Bull, so he will be very keen to be back in that fold."
Ricciardo will race in his final Grand Prix as a McLaren driver this weekend in Abu Dhabi.
Whilst a full-time drive for next season is now out of the equation, the Australian has indicated his intentions to make a return to the grid in 2024.
“I think the reality is now I won’t be on the grid in 2023. I think it’s now just trying to set up for ‘24,” Ricciardo said in October.
“It’s kind of like just hitting pause for a little bit, as I see it, and, let’s say, as far as my F1 career goes the full intention is for ‘24.
“As fun or cool as it sounds to compete in something else, the truth is mentally, I’m not there yet.
“I’m still so, so engaged in this and I think a bit of time off out of a seat will probably do me good.”