Daniel Ricciardo hits back at Red Bull ultimatum rumours as F1 2024 pressure mounts

Oliver Harden
Daniel Ricciardo closes his eyes on the Melbourne grid with a prominent RB logo alongside him

Daniel Ricciardo is under pressure after a poor start to the 2024 season

Daniel Ricciardo says he is ignoring speculation over his F1 future amid rumours that he could be dropped by Red Bull mid-season if his performances do not improve soon.

Having returned to a full-time F1 seat in mid-2023, Ricciardo entered the new season making no secret of his ambition to reclaim his old Red Bull seat alongside Max Verstappen.

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However, the 34-year-old instead finds himself fighting for his F1 future having lagged behind RB team-mate Yuki Tsunoda across the opening three races.

While Tsunoda reached Q3 in Saudi Arabia and Australia, finishing seventh in Melbourne to bank vital points for the Red Bull junior team, Ricciardo is yet to finish higher than 12th so far in 2024.

Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s long-serving advisor, has piled the pressure on Ricciardo to improve in recent weeks, warning the Australian that he “has to come up with something soon” before claiming both RB drivers are “too slow” in race conditions.

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Reports this week indicated Ricciardo could be replaced by Red Bull reserve driver Liam Lawson before the Miami Grand Prix in early May, though PlanetF1.com understands suggestions that Ricciardo is in immediate danger of losing his seat to be premature.

Addressing the speculation at his home race at Albert Park last weekend, Ricciardo insisted he is refusing to listen to the rumours about his future.

According to Motorsport.com, he said: “In terms of the noise, people tell me like in the media, they’re like, ‘Oh, so and so said’ – it’s the first I’ve heard.

“It’s obviously no disrespect to [the media], but I know that I’m on this little process or journey at the moment and I just need to focus on myself.

“If I let any of the noise in, it’s going to kind of distract me from the path I’m on.

“I haven’t let any of that negative stuff creep in.”

Ricciardo’s poor start to the 2024 season comes after he outqualified Tsunoda for his first race back at last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix, just weeks before he was ruled out for five races after suffering a broken hand in a practice crash at Zandvoort.

The former Renault and McLaren driver has been left bemused by his lack of progress since his comeback, admitting he was convinced that he would start the new campaign in much stronger fashion after a full pre-season with RB.

He explained: “I didn’t expect to start the season like this.

“Budapest last year, I drove the car a day before, and then I outqualify Yuki and have a really strong race – and with no knowledge.

“And then having a full pre-season and all that, and all the races last year, I honestly thought that this year we would start a lot stronger.

“So there is that which I don’t understand – not only me, but a few people are wondering why.

“I think the important thing is that I stay on course.

“It’s not that my head is filled with nonsense or anything. I honestly feel good.

“And just unfortunately, the results haven’t made me feel awesome. But deep down behind the wheel, I do feel good and excited and just want to keep racing.

“And I’m sure I’ll find a bit more in myself, and I still believe maybe we’ll find a little something on the car.”

Ricciardo is insistent that there have been occasional flashes of hope with the RB car over the first three races and is keen to distance his current struggles with his previous woes at McLaren, where he claimed to have a lack of confidence in the car before being dropped at the end of 2022.

He said: “I think there were certainly some moments where it does look more encouraging.

“Even then I still have some comments for the team, even when we are going fast, I think there’s still some things that I feel like I’m missing, but certainly a little bit more encouraging and we’ll just keep chipping away.

“What I obviously want to reiterate to the team as well is that it’s not a sort of confidence thing. It’s not like: ‘What the hell is this car going to do when I brake or when I turn?’

“It’s not that, it’s simply I feel a lot of the time I’m not able to carry the speed, maybe, and I see Yuki is able to.

“So [I need to] see what I can do better and I’m asking plenty of questions to the team as well. It’s a two-part process.

“I’m asking the team a lot of questions and I think we will have some bits and pieces come on to the car in the next one [or] two races.

“I expect it to be a pretty quick turnaround and, before you know it, we’ll be doing great again. I do believe it, so we’ll hopefully turn it around.”

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