Helmut Marko lays down Ricciardo/Tsunoda gauntlet with ‘ejector seat’ warning

Jamie Woodhouse
RB team-mates Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo in the Bahrain paddock.

RB team-mates Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo.

Red Bull senior advisor Helmut Marko says Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda can make themselves a 2025 Red Bull seat contender by “dominating” the RB F1 2024 intra-team battle, but warns them the drive alongside Max Verstappen is an “ejector seat”.

As Verstappen prepares to go on the hunt for a fourth World Championship in succession, it is also a very important year for Sergio Perez on the other side of the garage.

While having another year on his contract offered some protection for the Mexican racer through his 2023 struggles, now that safety net is gone as he needs to earn a new deal beyond F1 2024 if he wants to avoid this being his final season as Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate.

Helmut Marko: ‘No team-mate can hold a candle to Max Verstappen’

Should Perez slip up, then both Ricciardo and Tsunoda at Red Bull’s second team, rebranded to Visa Cash App RB for F1 2024, have their sights set on being the one to replace him and step up into the parent team.

However, Perez, like Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon before him, has had no joy in trying to take the fight to Verstappen, Marko warning no driver can do this, describing that spot next to the dominant Dutchman as an “ejector seat”.

Speaking to Kleine Zeitung, Marko said: “[The second seat alongside Verstappen is] highly coveted on the one hand, but also an ejector seat, as no team-mate can hold a candle to Max and it can quickly become demoralising.

“For both of them [Ricciardo and Tsunoda], it’s not just about staying in Formula 1, but also about the opportunity to move up to Red Bull Racing. This applies to whoever clearly dominates the season within the team.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

Daniel Ricciardo net worth: How much is F1’s ‘Honey Badger’ worth?

The many milestones Max Verstappen can reach in F1 2024 season

That being said, Marko made it clear that it is far from a case of Ricciardo versus Tsunoda for who partners Verstappen in 2025. Perez is also firmly still in contention.

Perez has spoken of a renewed title focus heading into F1 2024, but while Marko sees little chance of that ambition being realised, retaining P2 in the Drivers’ Championship and winning a few races along the way, having won two grands prix last year, will put the “absolute team player” Perez in the mix to keep his seat.

“Checo has to perform consistently,” Marko affirmed.

“It’s clear that he can’t always drive at Verstappen’s level. If he finishes second in the World Championship and wins one or two races, he will certainly be an option for 2025.”

Red Bull also has junior driver Liam Lawson to factor into their 2025 plans, who is expecting a spot on the grid following his strong showings while standing in for the injured Ricciardo.

Read next – Revealed: Liam Lawson’s blunt verdict after private Christian Horner meeting