Daniel Ricciardo’s three-word response to Alan Jones after brutal ‘past it’ comment

Thomas Maher
Daniel Ricciardo on the pitwall at the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

RB driver Daniel Ricciardo.

Daniel Ricciardo has offered a blunt riposte to Alan Jones’ theory that the RB driver is now past his best.

Ricciardo arrived at Perth Airport to be greeted by Australian media ahead of his home race this weekend in Melbourne, where he asked about the comments made by his World Champion compatriot.

Alan Jones’s theory is Daniel Ricciardo is ‘past his best’

Jones, who won the World title in 1980, said he suspects Ricciardo is no longer at his peak as a racing driver, as the RB driver seeks his first points of 2024 after a tough race in Saudi Arabia saw him struggle to get involved in the midfield action – although a slow pit stop didn’t help his efforts.

Ricciardo was always going to come under more scrutiny in 2024 as he returns to full-time action after a year as a reserve before making his return in place of the ousted Nyck de Vries – only to be sidelined again due to a hand injury from a crash at Zandvoort.

Having been dropped by McLaren at the end of 2022 due to underwhelming performance, Ricciardo is facing a stern challenge to prove his doubters wrong.

“I think [Ricciardo] would even agree with that,” Jones told the Herald Sun in regards to Ricciardo needing to improve.

“Bad luck, or otherwise, I’m sure Daniel would like to have had better results than what he has had.

“At the end of the day, we can’t be blaming the car all the time, which has been a bit of a tendency in the past.

“I would love to see Daniel go extremely well in Melbourne, I would like to see Daniel go extremely well period.

“But I just think that his luck is going to have to change or he is going to have to lift his game if he has got any chance of getting back in that Red Bull team or getting back into a more competitive car.

“He is treading water. He really needs to have some very good results and put up a good show, he can’t be dwelling down where he is.

“I hate to say it, but I think we have seen the best days [from Ricciardo]. He has had his bum in a few decent cars, irrespective of what people say.

“The Alpine or the McLaren, the car that he is in right now… at the end of the day he has got to start beating his team-mate for a start.

“I would love him to become super competitive and be up there challenging in the points, but I just think that maybe a couple of things have got to change before we see that.”

Daniel Ricciardo offers blunt reaction

Speaking to 10 News First Sport’s Lachy Reid on the ground in Perth Airport, ahead of his flight to Melbourne, Ricciardo was full of beans as he spoke about his excitement at returning home and hoping to kickstart his season in Melbourne.

“It’s been a bit of a steady, I’d say slow start to the year, but it’s only been two races,” he said.

“Hopefully the season starts on the right foot now in Melbourne and that’ll be like the first one to get going.”

Asked about Jones’ comments, and whether he feels he’s got something to prove, Ricciardo responded in short.

“Ehhhh, not at all,” Ricciardo flatly said, his full smile dropping noticeably as he spoke, before cheerily waving goodbye and walking away from the interviewer.

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Laurent Mekies: The Daniel we have now is the best Daniel we have seen

Speaking on the Beyond The Grid podcast, new RB team boss Laurent Mekies was full of praise for what he’s seen from the Australian in the early stages of their partnership at the former AlphaTauri squad.

“When you walk into the team, you see Daniel, and you have the first couple of days of running with him. And you see the race-winning guy,” he said.

“That’s what you see, you feel that you have in the car – you see in the car, a guy that has been hunting for races, podiums.

“So the Daniel you see in the car is the Daniel that was fighting for the very top positions.

“For whatever reason, I’m lucky enough to have, in our team right now, a race-winning guy.

“So I guess the Daniel we have now is the best Daniel we have seen. Of course, he has had a rough patch in the last few years.

“But, ironically, it’s probably putting him now in the best mindset, the best spirit, the best energy. He has this incredible technical sensitivity, he is buying into the project.

“He’s living Visa CashApp RB with us, he’s proud of the colours. He’s pushing us with all the positivity that we all know about him.

“So I think, at the start of a project like that, having a guy like Daniel with us driving the car, it is just a game changer.”

Asked whether he has any understanding of the conditions that led to Ricciardo’s dip in form while at McLaren, and the ongoing push to recover from that, Mekies said: “It’s very difficult from outside to understand it, it is probably difficult for the people inside to understand it. So I’m not going to second guess that.

“But I would lie if I was not telling you that this increases the attention levels that we have in making sure that we have the right conditions around him. So we are very careful with him.

“He’s part of that process, he is driving that process in making sure we put him in the right spot – 360 degrees in what to find in the car, outside of the car, and how we manage his energy.”

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