Daniel Ricciardo warned of crushing F1 career conclusion with ‘next couple races’ timeframe

Michelle Foster
Daniel Ricciardo, RB, 2024 Australian Grand Prix.

RB's Daniel Ricciardo.

Never mind chasing a 2025 Red Bull race seat, Daniel Ricciardo’s RB drive is today on the line unless he can show the team he can succeed with the new ground-effect aerodynamic cars.

Ricciardo’s last full-time drive in Formula 1 was with McLaren but that ended when the Honey Badger and the Woking team failed to understand his issues with the car, never mind find the solutions.

‘The feel, the rhythm, it’s just not there’ for Daniel Ricciardo

With his self-belief taking a knock, the eight-time Grand Prix winner called time on his racing career and instead took a role at his former team Red Bull as a reserve driver.

But feeling even early in F1 2023 that he wanted back in the game, he returned to racing in the second half of the year and did an admirable job at Red Bull’s junior team.

So much so the team decided to retain Ricciardo with an eye to replacing Sergio Perez as Max Verstappen’s 2025 Red Bull Racing team-mate.

However, four races into the new season and it is more a case of can the 34-year-old hold onto his RB than can he replace Perez.

Ricciardo has been trounced 4-0 by his team-mate Yuki Tsunoda in qualifying this season and also trails him 7-0 in the points.

Such has been their contrasting forms that even Helmut Marko, who has never been in the Tsunoda camp, is applauding the Japanese driver.

It has commentator Alex Jacques fearing for Ricciardo’s F1 future.

“That’s why he was brought back, to try and earn that promotion. He was meant to be the team leader. It’s all about Yuki at the moment,” he told Channel 4.

“If he can’t turn things around in the next couple of races, there are going to be questions about whether the Daniel that won eight Grands Prix with the previous regulation set can do it with this modern era of ground-effect car.

“He needs the results, the easiest way to quieten the doubters is to find yourself in that top 10.”

He added: “It’s really tough. He’s had a spin in FP3 as well. The feel, the rhythm, the Daniel Ricciardo that won eight grands prix, it’s just not there in the same way, and he’s going to turn things around and quickly.”

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Big praise for ‘angry’ Yuki Tsunoda

On the other side of the RB garage, Jacques believes Tsunoda is driving “angry” as while Ricciardo has been mentioned time and time again with the Red Bull seat, Tsunoda has been largely ignored.

And yet he’s the one leading the RB tussle, putting Ricciardo “in the shade” according to the commentator.

“Seventh place in the Australian Grand Prix was his best result for two years in Formula One and he needs it,” he said.

“At the start of the year he is under a little bit of pressure, he knows that they might be swapping the drivers around at that team now called RB. So he’s got to drive really well, and that’s exactly what he’s bringing.

“I sense he’s driving a little bit angry and sometimes when you drive angry in Formula One that can lead to a crash, that can lead to anonymous races, but he’s channelling it really nicely.

“And he is absolutely superb in the moment, he’s putting his team-mate in the shade.”

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