Daniel Ricciardo facing ‘uphill battle’ with ‘another Sebastian Vettel’ waiting in the wings

Thomas Maher
AlphaTauri's Daniel Ricciardo pictured at the Singapore Grand Prix.

AlphaTauri's Daniel Ricciardo pictured in the paddock.

Daniel Ricciardo’s full-time return in 2024 might not match up to the potential Liam Lawson has shown, according to Eddie Jordan.

Having spent time on the sidelines after being bought out of his McLaren contract, Daniel Ricciardo made a comeback to F1 with the Red Bull-owned AlphaTauri team before the summer break.

But, just two races later, the Australian broke a metacarpal in his left hand in a practice crash at Zandvoort, handing a super-sub opportunity to Red Bull reserve driver Liam Lawson – the Kiwi driver stunning the F1 world with his poise and speed in his handful of stand-in races.

Eddie Jordan: ‘People person’ Daniel Ricciardo faces an uphill battle

Appearing on the Formula for Success podcast alongside former F1 racer David Coulthard, Eddie Jordan shared his thoughts on the extent of the challenge facing Ricciardo – as well as revealing his man-crush on the Australian!

The former Jordan Grand Prix boss was asked about Ricciardo’s full-time comeback in 2024, with AlphaTauri confirming he and Yuki Tsunoda will form the driver pairing at the Red Bull sister team next season. Lawson will serve as reserve driver, waiting patiently in the wings for his opportunity to return.

Coulthard put to Jordan that it will be interesting to see how Ricciardo fares, suggesting that he needs to show significant speed over Tsunoda in order to prove he has recaptured the magic that made him so highly rated before his downfall years with Renault and McLaren.

Asked whether he believes Ricciardo can truly bounce back, to the point of putting him in a Red Bull alongside Max Verstappen as has been speculated once Sergio Perez’s contract expires, the Irishman said: “I think there’s always the potential for somebody to refind themselves, to go inside their soul, dig deep, and make a total commitment.

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“Now, where Daniel has the problem, he is the people’s person. He’s got the best smile I’ve ever seen. He’s a lovely character. There’s not a nicer person in the world. He keeps himself in great, great shape. A better six-pack I don’t think I’ve ever seen. I mean, when you see him gone for a swim, it’s just ridiculous how fit he is. He’s absolutely mustard.

“But that doesn’t win you Grands Prix, and AlphaTauri, next year, I think that car… there seems to be a divergence, you know, the Red Bull car and that car, they’re not the same anymore or have less compatible items on each other’s car.”

Jordan said that due to the promise Lawson has shown – including scoring his first F1 points in Singapore at the first time of asking at one of the sport’s toughest races – lurking in the wings waiting to strike is ‘another Sebastian Vettel’.

“So, therefore, it’s an uphill battle,” he said.

“My guess is I’d love to see Lawson in it but, at the same time, Formula 1 does not need to lose characters and drivers of the ilk of Daniel.

“One part of me says put Lawson in the car – take the chance – because you have a chance of making another Vettel. It’s really difficult to see how Daniel is going to do that.

“However, AlphaTauri has now gone commercial with what they do and I don’t think you can get anyone better than Daniel to do that. Maybe that’s the solution – they should go for one year, put Lawson in as the test driver. Don’t lose Lawson, though, I think he is really good.”

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