Daniel Ricciardo denies Nyck de Vries rumours amid replacement suggestions

Michelle Foster
RB driver Daniel Ricciardo with his eyes closed on the grid

Daniel Ricciardo's early-season auditions have not gone to plan

Daniel Ricciardo has rubbished suggestions he put pressure on Red Bull to drop Nyck de Vries last season to open the door for his F1 return.

Dropped by McLaren after two seasons, Ricciardo took up a reserve driver role at Red Bull Racing in 2023 that included a similar slot at the junior team.

Daniel Ricciardo: That was surprising…

As such, when 2022 Italian GP star and F1 debutant de Vries was dropped after failing to rise to the F1 challenge having been given a full-season slot on the grid with AlphaTauri, it was Ricciardo who took his race seat.

The Aussie, though, now finds himself under pressure.

Out-qualified by his team-mate Yuki Tsunoda this season, and also outscored at six to one, whereas 12 months ago it was De Vries who was facing the negative comments and rumours, now it’s Ricciardo.

Given the hurry up by Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko, the Honey Badger finds himself in a very similar position to that of his Dutch predecessor.

He’s made it clear, though, that he never once pushed for De Vries to be axed to open the door for his own F1 return.

“I didn’t put pressure on Red Bull. I never said that they had to replace Nyck with me. I thought if it has to be this way, it will be this way,” he told Viaplay.

“I thought, ‘I’ll just keep preparing in the simulator and do all the other things to show that I’m getting back up to standard. If they call me I’ll be ready. If they don’t call, I’ll use this time to to work myself.’

“When I did get the call, it was earlier than I expected. That was surprising, but you don’t turn down an opportunity like that.”

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Ricciardo left Red Bull at the height of his success, the Honey Badger having scored seven race wins with the Milton Keynes team.

Since then, the end of the 2018, he’s won just one Grand Prix when he was P1 in Italy with McLaren.

Pressed as to whether he regretted leaving Red Bull at the end of the 2018 season given Max Verstappen has gone on to win three World titles, Ricciardo said: “No, because living with regrets is not a good life.

“I see it as a lesson I have learned. Would I like to know what I would have achieved at Red Bull if I had stayed? Of course. But I have now been given a second chance.

“I want to win races again and experience the feeling of that top step again. I returned to Formula 1 because I believe I can still do it.”

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