Ricciardo will be absent from the F1 2023 driver line-up after he was ditched by McLaren and opted not to pursue another full-time drive – he will instead be Red Bull’s third driver.
Promotional and marketing opportunities in the US will make up a part of Ricciardo’s role. He will not be present at every F1 race, and now Red Bull chief Marko has conceded that the driver’s fame was a key reason that he was recruited.
“There are show car runs and performances, especially in America and who better than Ricciardo with his smiley and shoey,” Marko said.
“We have, I think, the biggest sponsorship revenue of all the teams. There are an incredible number of obligations.”
Ricciardo’s fame soared after Netflix show Drive To Survive but it coincided with a dramatic downturn in performance, resulting in McLaren choosing to replace him with rookie Oscar Piastri.
“Sergio has shown that he drives at a very high level and if Max is not there, then Sergio is there,” said Marko.
“It’s a certain security, but it’s not like we want to put Sergio under pressure.
“There is also a great routine. If a replacement is necessary, there is of course a driver who you know will bring the car to the finish.”
Ricciardo has never hid his plan to return to the F1 grid full-time in 2024 but whether that might be at Red Bull, alongside Verstappen and instead of Perez, remains to be seen.