Latest update on Daniel Ricciardo’s F1 future as Liam Lawson return rumours swirl

Thomas Maher
Liam Lawson, Daniel Ricciardo, 2024 Australian Grand Prix.

Liam Lawson has been linked with a seat at RB, perhaps even as soon as the Miami Grand Prix...

Daniel Ricciardo may have to pull up his socks, but the Australian is in no danger of losing his seat to Liam Lawson any time soon.

Just three races into the 2024 F1 season, rumours have already started to emerge about Daniel Ricciardo’s seat being in jeopardy after a tough introduction to the year.

Daniel Ricciardo replacement rumours emerge

Ricciardo came into 2024 knowing the scrutiny on him would be intense this year, after he had his contract with McLaren bought out at the end of 2022 in order for the Woking-based squad to make a driver change.

Ricciardo found refuge with Red Bull as a reserve driver for their two teams and was given the nod to replace the under-performing Nyck de Vries in the middle of last year after a strong Pirelli tyre test at the wheel of Red Bull’s RB19.

Red Bull took their time to confirm the drivers they’d field at their newly-renamed RB sister team, formerly AlphaTauri, with Yuki Tsunoda and Ricciardo being given the nod as Liam Lawson ultimately fell short.

Lawson had been drafted in as a substitute for five races while Ricciardo was out injured, and impressed with mature drives and even a hard-fought ninth place in Singapore – but is now having to wait in the wings for an opportunity to emerge with RB or Red Bull.

According to a report in New Zealand, that opportunity could come quite soon – perhaps even as soon as the Miami Grand Prix. The Herald has suggested that Ricciardo has been given an ultimatum by Red Bull’s Helmut Marko that, if improvements aren’t made soon, Lawson could be given his car for the rest of the season.

But PlanetF1.com understands that the suggestions Ricciardo is in danger of losing his seat any time soon are premature – while the Australian driver is being given the hurry-up, there are no intentions to replace him in the seat.

Lawson’s own management team also have come forward to say Lawson has not been advised by Red Bull of any such moves, and the Kiwi driver has had no contact with media or made any comment regarding a possible move into Ricciardo’s seat.

However, as the reserve driver, Lawson remains hopeful that an opportunity for a full-time seat does become available.

While the rumour of a switch in time for Miami has been shot down, this doesn’t rule out the possibility that such a sensational switch could happen as the year progresses – Lawson only narrowly missed out on a seat with the RB squad and is known to have the admiration of Marko.

Liam Lawson ‘absolutely’ ready to replace Daniel Ricciardo

Ricciardo had already been given the hurry-up by Marko after a difficult first two races and then failed to make it out of Q1 in Australia after exceeding track limits on his fastest lap. He put in a solid showing in the Grand Prix to finish 12th, while Tsunoda came home in eighth place, promoted to seventh due to Fernando Alonso’s time penalty.

Heading to Australia, Marko attempted to light a fire under the RB drivers by saying both have been “too slow” in the races.

“There’s a lot at stake for [Tsunoda and Ricciardo]. Both might be hoping for a seat at Red Bull, and one should be well ahead of the other,” Marko told Sky Germany.

“So far Ricciardo is a bit behind. But let’s put it this way: Tsunoda’s qualifying speed is okay. But in the race, both are too slow.

“I think one point would have been possible in each of the first two races. It’s very difficult to score points behind the top five [teams] and, when you have an opportunity, you can’t afford to make mistakes.”

With Marko also saying Ricciardo needs to “come up with something pretty soon”, Lawson himself has said he’s “absolutely” ready to step back into Formula 1 if the opportunity arises, telling Fox Sports he’s prepared to replace Ricciardo at a moment’s notice.

“I think Daniel knows that the potential is there, but I’m sure he’s probably expected to step it up,” he said.

Lawson’s latest comments come after the new series of Drive to Survive, Netflix’s widely acclaimed F1 docuseries, revealed his true reaction to being denied a permanent F1 seat for 2024.

After being informed of the news by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, Lawson was captured aiming a dig at Tsunoda, whom he had comfortably outperformed at the Singapore Grand Prix.

“I’ve just beaten the guy who got the seat,” Lawson says. “It was meant to be me.”

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Daniel Ricciardo: I definitely believe I can do it

As for Ricciardo himself, who headed to Australia brushing off that he felt he had anything to prove after comments made by 1980 F1 World Champion Alan Jones suggested his compatriot is past his best, the eight-time Grand Prix winner believes he still has what it takes to be a top-level driver.

“I definitely believe I can do it,” he insisted.

“It’s probably a two-part process now. I think there’s obviously me diving into the data and seeing even kind of like driving technique, ‘Why am I doing this? Is it because of what I feel? Like I’m trying to then respond or correlate that to the data and talk to the engineers while I’m doing something and then ask them questions. Why is it giving me this feeling?’

“I’m certainly throwing a lot of questions at them and I’m obviously asking myself a lot too, so I wouldn’t say there’s any panic.

“I would have loved the season to have started better, but we’ll just keep digging. I think as well the car hasn’t really changed from last year.

“Obviously it’s a bit of an update, but its characteristics and everything are very similar. So I think there’s some confidence in that.

“It’s not that we’ve changed everything and all of a sudden this car suits Yuki and doesn’t suit me, I certainly don’t feel it’s anything like that.

“I think we will find something. I thought it would have been this weekend. Maybe it’s next and if it’s not the next then we’ll keep going until it happens and it will happen.”

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