‘Does this spell the end?’ – Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull question posed after Sergio Perez announcement

Henry Valantine
Daniel Ricciardo talks to media at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix.

RB's Daniel Ricciardo.

Daniel Ricciardo had been hoping to challenge for a Red Bull drive next season, but the announcement of Sergio Perez staying has put paid to that for at least the next two years.

Perez penned a new deal that will keep him at the team until 2026, and with Max Verstappen contracted until 2028, Ricciardo’s public aim of retiring from Formula 1 as a Red Bull driver now appears further away.

Daniel Ricciardo hopes of returning to Red Bull now over?

Ricciardo was not the only suitor looking to challenge for a Red Bull cockpit, with Yuki Tsunoda having been looking to stake a claim, as well as Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz having been on the open market.

Having left the team at the end of 2018, Ricciardo had been looking for a way back to the team after stints with Renault and McLaren, before returning to the Red Bull fold last year, through AlphaTauri – now RB.

Sky Sports reporter Craig Slater questioned if this move ends Ricciardo’s hopes of returning to the ‘senior’ Red Bull team, as well as the other candidates’ hopes of becoming Verstappen’s team-mate.

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“I think we should say of the others that might have gone there, we know that the two fathers of Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen, Jos Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Senior perhaps don’t get on so well. That had been a fractious relationship when the two of them had been team-mates at Toro Rosso,” Slater explained on Sky Sports News.

“Does this also spell the end for Daniel Ricciardo’s hopes of driving at the very top level again?

“He would have hoped that, if not next year, then maybe the year after to try and get back in that Red Bull seat, and a two-year deal rather rules that out, he’s 34 years old.

“Yuki Tsunoda’s prospects, who has driven very well this year, again, with the two-year aspect of this, that seems to have gone away too.

“So I think there will be a number of individuals thinking ‘well, maybe my chance has gone’.

“Alex Albon, who is Thai-licensed, and that would have sat well with the Red Bull organisation, him going back there potentially, is that a longer shot now that Perez has signed up for a couple of years?

“But I think for Max, this is a choice which he will be happy with. I don’t think he cares necessarily who his team-mate is but better the driver you know alongside you than potentially some unknown quantity.”

For Ricciardo himself, he exclusively told PlanetF1.com recently that a Red Bull seat was his main driver behind heading back to the team’s stable prior to the announcement of Perez staying, but if a seat was not forthcoming, he would still have targets to look ahead to in the sport.

“I think the ultimate goal is still that – I mean, who wouldn’t love to be a World Champion?” he said.

“I think just through going through this stage now… in 2022, I did think there were some races where I jumped out of the car after the race and I was like, ‘Maybe I’m never coming back to this track’. You know, maybe this is it. This is the last.

“Just being back, there’s an element that I’m just very grateful to have a second chance. But it doesn’t change.

“As grateful as I am, I would still love to be World Champion. I still want to win races and find those highs again, because that’s why we do it.

“But yeah, look, getting fourth place with this team felt like a win. So, if my career were to end with this team but I was able to pull on a string of fourth places, would I be happy? Yeah, I’d be happy.

“Is it ticking that ultimate box for me? It isn’t. But I could still walk away with my head held high. But I don’t know, even when I say that, I still feel… it’s probably like the retirement thing deep down! I believed it wouldn’t happen so when I say that, I think I’d still be okay but, deep down, I feel like there are still some things ahead for me.”

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