Daniel Ricciardo Under Pressure To Retain Seat After Poor Start To 2024

Daniel Ricciardo Under Pressure To Retain Seat After Poor Start To 2024
Daniel Ricciardo Under Pressure To Retain Seat After Poor Start To 2024

Previously considered a likely candidate to return to Red Bull Racing, Daniel Ricciardo is now facing a challenge to maintain his position with the junior ‘RB’ team.

This shift in circumstances might be partly attributed to the ongoing scandal involving Christian Horner, especially since the strategy to rejuvenate Ricciardo’s struggling Formula 1 career after his departure from McLaren is thought to have been orchestrated by Horner.

“Please understand that I concentrate on sport here,” Marko told Speed Week. “I continue not to comment on other things.”

Even 34-year-old Ricciardo admits he has struggled so far in 2024 – a critical year given Sergio Perez’s expiring contract alongside Max Verstappen.

Mexican Perez, who brings key sponsorship to the team, is suddenly earning good reviews by the recently highly-critical Red Bull consultant Dr Helmut Marko.

“Great race,” said the 80-year-old when asked about Perez’s performance in Saudi Arabia.

“He overtook (Charles) Leclerc relatively quickly and then gained those five seconds, actually setting the same times as Max after that. We are very satisfied,” Marko added.

As for Ricciardo, however, Marko is less impressed.

“There’s a lot at stake this season for both Yuki (Tsunoda) and Daniel,” he told Speed Week. “Yuki’s qualifying performance was very good, but Ricciardo has to come up with something soon.

“At least Tsunoda is very good in qualifying,” Marko added. “Then he is at the top of the points in the first stint, only to fall further and further behind after that.

“Whether the drivers are putting too much strain on the tyres or there are other reasons is what we need to find out.”

Ricciardo is not taking all the blame, declaring after Jeddah: “I know we can be a lot better if we get the car under control. Everything just hasn’t worked 100 percent.”

However, Marko is keen to free up a RB cockpit next year for Liam Lawson, who the 80-year-old said was just as impressive as a substitute driver last year as Oliver Bearman was at Ferrari in Saudi Arabia.

“Sure, today the boys are all well prepared when they move up,” he said. “But only if someone is really good can they achieve such achievements right from the start.”

Former F1 driver Christijan Albers agrees that Marko will almost certainly give Lawson a full-time drive in 2025.

“As a newcomer, Bearman can easily end up high on the lists,” he told De Telegraaf. “But Liam Lawson is still at the very top because he simply belongs in Formula 1 now.

“But Bearman is not far behind.”

Marko may also want to keep Japanese Tsunoda at RB next year, amid rumours Aston Martin might be interested. “Last weekend, he did better than Daniel Ricciardo once again,” Albers said.

“I see that Tsunoda is still very underestimated, and that is unfair.”

Veteran F1 journalist Roger Benoit agrees, writing in Blick newspaper after Jeddah: “The eight-time GP winner Ricciardo looks old against Tsunoda so far.”

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