Sky F1 pundit Martin Brundle was left underwhelmed by Daniel Ricciardo after his F1 2023 return, feeling he is yet to do enough to justify a Red Bull recall.
Ricciardo dropped off the grid at the end of the 2022 campaign, McLaren terminating his contract a year early after a nightmare two-year stint with the team.
While the eight-time grand prix winner then went away to find out if his love for Formula 1 remained, Red Bull threw him a lifeline, bringing him back into the fold for the first time since 2018 as their reserve driver.
Martin Brundle unconvinced on Daniel Ricciardo to Red Bull
Nyck de Vries’ underperformance at junior team AlphaTauri opened the door though for Ricciardo to return to the grid at the 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix, replacing De Vries who was shown the door after only 10 rounds at the wheel.
A broken hand suffered in a Dutch GP practice crash proved a setback for Ricciardo, Red Bull junior Liam Lawson debuting in his place for a five-race stint, though Ricciardo’s performances versus team-mate Yuki Tsunoda, compared to Lawson’s, were not necessarily a cut above.
In the head-to-heads, Tsunoda defeated Ricciardo 4-3 in both qualifying and race trim, while for Lawson, he lost out 2-3 to Tsunoda over one lap, but boasted a 3-1 win in the races. Lawson scored a best result of P9 in Singapore, compared to P7 for Ricciardo at the Mexican GP.
Ricciardo has made it clear that his ultimate goal is to return to the Red Bull team, as he looks to apply pressure on Sergio Perez for a 2025 seat, but Brundle had expected Ricciardo to post better performances versus Tsunoda than he did, so believes Ricciardo must do “a lot more” to prove he is worthy of a Red Bull return.
Responding to a fan question regarding Ricciardo’s performances since returning as part of a Sky Sports F1 Q&A, Brundle said: “I don’t think Daniel has perhaps outperformed Tsunoda as I would have expected him to.
“I know he was thrown in at the deep end and he was really unlucky with that incident in Zandvoort. So the jury is out on that.
“And you have to say McLaren replaced him with [Oscar] Piastri, at some cost and pain, and that proved to be a pretty smart move, didn’t it?
“So for me, Daniel’s got a lot more to do before I would think that he’s ready to go and take the fight to Max Verstappen.”
Piastri would score two podium finishes and take sprint victory in Qatar as part of an impressive rookie season with McLaren, having been brought in to fill the vacancy created by Ricciardo’s axing.