Christian Horner comments on Daniel Ricciardo as paddock rumours swirl

Michelle Foster
AlphaTauri driver Daniel Ricciardo putting on his helmet on the grid.

Daniel Ricciardo impressed with a P7 result at the Mexican GP.

Despite his troubles at McLaren with the car’s rear-end weakness, Christian Horner says it’s a “fallacy” that Daniel Ricciardo’s driving style cannot cope with that sort of car.

After all, he just claimed AlphaTauri’s best result of this season in a similar model.

Back on the grid after his two month injury lay-off, Ricciardo bounced from his Austin troubles to put in an impressive showing at the Mexican Grand Prix.

Does Daniel Ricciardo have an issue with rear instability?

Fourth in qualifying and dreaming of holding onto the position but conceding it won’t be easy against the bigger teams, the AlphaTauri driver brought his car home in seventh place.

That was the team’s best result of this championship and it meant AlphaTauri leapt from 10th to eighth in the Constructors’ standings.

The weekend also put paid to suggestions Ricciardo’s driving style doesn’t work with a car that has rear instability with the said to have been one of his biggest issues during his two seasons at McLaren.

Asked if he thought the Aussie had done enough in the AT04 to prove he’s not ‘fundamentally limited’ by such a car, Horner told the media in Mexico: “I think that’s a bit of a fallacy to say. I think sport is as much in their head as it is in anywhere else.

“He’s back to his old self, he’s relaxed, he’s confident and I thought this weekend… He came into the weekend fully motivated after a tricky Austin coming back from injury and I thought he did a did a great job this weekend.”

“It is great to see Daniel performing so well and fully endorses the reason why we brought him back into the AlphaTauri,” he added.

“I thought he was outstanding this weekend, fighting Mercedes in an AlphaTauri. And if it were not for the red flag, he’d have finished further up, so it was a great performance and certainly looked like the Daniel of old this weekend.

“Look at the delta to Max, it was less than a tenth I think so a remarkable performance by him.” recommends

F1 2024 driver line-up: Who is confirmed for next season’s grid?

F1 2023: Head-to-head qualifying and race stats between team-mates

‘Ricciardo has put a bit of direction into AlphaTauri’s development’

Since Ricciardo joined AlphaTauri at this year’s Hungarian Grand Prix when the Red Bull reserve driver was called up to replace the beleaguered Nyck de Vries, the team has recorded its three best results of the championship.

While Liam Lawson, filling in for Ricciardo after his broke his hand, was ninth in Singapore, Yuki Tsunoda was eighth in Austin and now Ricciardo has added a P7 to the scoresheet.

Horner puts that down to the influence the Aussie has already had on the AT04’s development.

“I think he just brings them a bunch of experience,” he said. “They had two inexperienced drivers in the car.

“I think he’s just put a bit of direction into their engineering and they’re benefiting from that. So he has that experience. That’s part of what he brings.”

Is there something afoot at Red Bull?

With Daniel Ricciardo outqualifying Sergio Perez in an inferior car on Saturday and following up with a very strong race performance on Sunday, it has only sparked more conversation and rumour about Perez’s Red Bull future.

Esteemed F1 paddock journalist Albert Fabrega fanned those particular flames with this rather cryptic post on X in the aftermath of the Mexican Grand Prix.

I don’t want to believe the rumor that they have told me now in the paddock. No,’ he tweeted.

F1 broadcaster Will Buxton also teased that he was aware of some information being spread, quote tweeting with a series of gifs, most notably on an X post from Luke Smith which contained complimentary quotes from Horner towards Ricciardo.

Whilst there is uncertainty over Perez’s future, there is absolutely no doubt that he is under a serious amount of pressure to perform.

Mexican GP driver ratings: Fan favourites star, home favourite flops