Red Bull engineers were tasked with correcting errors that Ricciardo made upon his return to the team as their third driver at the start of this year.

Ricciardo had been axed from McLaren after two drab seasons, and his driving ability was swiftly earmarked for improvement by Horner when he returned.

“I think bad habits can just come in the form of a lack of confidence,” Ricciardo told the Beyond The Grid podcast. 

“It was the end of last year. Once the season was done, I jumped on the sim, I guess it was sometime in December before I went home for Christmas.

“Don't get me wrong, I was also nervous because I'm stepping back into an environment that, I knew Christian was very open doors, but I didn't know how other people at Red Bull felt about me coming back into the family, into the team, so I was also a little bit nervous with that.”

Ricciardo had quit Red Bull five years ago to take up an opportunity at Renault but was rescued from the F1 scrapheap by his old team, who gave him a third driver role for 2023.

He admitted his nerves stemmed from how he exited Red Bull in 2018: “Yeah. Obviously, there was me telling them that I was leaving. That's going to have its effect. 

“But I think in that second half of the season, I think we all got over it as best as we could. 

“It didn't end sour or bad, but I understand some people can be hurt or confused by it. 

“I did have a contract available to me so it's not like the team never offered me something. 

“They did, so me turning that down and going somewhere else, I understand that.

“And also, because I'm not coming off a high, I'm obviously coming off a pretty low season. 

“I'm walking into the team that's won the championship. So are people going to be like ‘who's this washed up kid?’ 

“Or are they going to be happy to see me back and happy to try and like resurrect me a little bit?”

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Ricciardo was comprehensively outperformed by teammate Lando Norris in 2022.

McLaren opted to pay off the final year of his deal, to replace him with rookie Oscar Piastri.

“My confidence, I lost that,” Ricciardo admitted. “Where did that go? 

“It's funny, I look now and I'm not a coach to anyone, but I feel I could probably look, even in other sports, and maybe I could just look at the trend of a certain athlete and be like, ‘oh, that person needs time out.’

“I was just a bit burnt out and I think obviously not madly in love with it. 

“I think that’s obviously a big tell-tale sign because it's the reason we all really get into it, you know, passion comes first.
“I think the confidence was another thing. I think when I did my first simulator day at Red Bull, I realised, and the people there realised it. That made me realise I'm not really my true self.”

Ricciardo’s fortunes changed when a test driving the Red Bull gave the team confidence to put him into an AlphaTauri full-time midway through the season, at the expense of Nyck de Vries.

And despite an injury which cost him a few races and gave Liam Lawson a chance to impress, Ricciardo will retain his AlphaTauri drive in 2024 and has genuine hope of returning to Red Bull alongside Max Verstappen in 2025.