After seeing his contract with McLaren terminated a year early following his underwhelming performances over the last two seasons, Ricciardo has returned to Red Bull to become the team’s third driver. 

The 33-year-old Australian will carry out simulator and development work as well as marketing activities for Red Bull as he takes a step back from F1 before targeting a full-time return in 2024. 

Verstappen vs Perez: Has their relationship gone bad?

Ricciardo’s return to Milton Keynes - where he raced between 2014 and 2018 - has seen the eight-time grand prix winner linked with Sergio Perez’s seat to become teammates with Max Verstappen once again. 

But speaking in Sky Sports F1’s 2022 season review, Croft said an ageing Ricciardo is not the right fit for Red Bull in the long-term. 

"I think they're two very different styles of driver,” said Croft. “They're both capable of winning races, but they win races in very different ways.

“I hate to say this, and I think Daniel’s a fantastic bloke... but he's not the future of Red Bull, mainly because of age.

"When Max spoke at the end of the season of potentially stopping at the age of 31, that's a big revelation to me. 

“He's already thinking about the time he stops racing. Personally, I'd be trying to evaluate someone else to come in if Checo's not the answer.”

Sky Sports F1 pundit Karun Chandhok believes Red Bull should make a big swoop to sign Lando Norris, who is contracted to McLaren until the end of 2025. 

“I think they should be going hard to try and buy Lando Norris out of his contract,” he said. 

On Ricciardo being a contender for a 2024 race seat with Red Bull, Chandhok added: "I'm waiting to see how it plays out. 

"The last time Ricciardo drove for Red Bull was in 2018 and F1 cars have changed a lot, it's like a different category now. I think Max has changed a lot, too.

"I think Daniel vs Checo is an interesting fight for the '24 seat... but how do they evaluate Daniel? 

“They can put him in the sim, but it's not like driving the real car. So will they give him a go in a test somewhere? That's what I'd like to see. How do they genuinely evaluate the Daniel Ricciardo of today?”

Perez ‘relaxed’ about Ricciardo arrival 

Speaking to Sky Sports News earlier this month, Perez, who has struggled to match Verstappen’s performances, insisted he is relaxed about his future at the team. 

"I'm pretty relaxed,” Perez said. “We live under a lot of pressure all the time, it doesn't change anything form my side. 

“I think it's a great achievement from the team to have a driver like Daniel. He's going to contribute a lot to our team.

"He's a great guy, he's one of the guys I get on most with on the paddock. It’s great to have Daniel in the team and from my side it doesn't change anything.

"We started our careers at a similar time so we've known each other a long time. I certainly get on with him.”

After being involved in a heated team orders row in Brazil, Sky’s F1 team have tipped “trust issues” between Verstappen and Perez to spill over into the 2023 season