Christian Horner issues Daniel Ricciardo challenge as RB future hangs in balance

The RB driver's contract expires at the end of the season and speculation persists he could be replaced by a younger driver

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Christian Horner has challenged Daniel Ricciardo to prove he deserves to keep his seat with Visa Cash App RB for the 2025 Formula 1 season, despite Helmut Marko’s dismissive remarks.

Ricciardo has endured a disappointing return to the grid after replacing Nyck de Vries midway through the 2023 season, having initially signed with Red Bull as their reserve driver. In particular, he was brutally criticised by former F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve, who urged Ricciardo to quit the sport.

He responded in perfect fashion by finishing eighth at the Canadian Grand Prix, but it is the only time the 34-year-old has finished in the points in a race this season. His contract expires at the end of the season and speculation suggests the Australian could be replaced by RB, with Yuki Tsunoda committing his future to the team until 2026.

Ahead of the Austrian GP – the team’s home race – Horner admitted Ricciardo must continue to show signs of the ‘old Daniel’ to convince his employers he is worthy of a seat.

Daniel Ricciardo returned to Red Bull as their reserve in 2023 | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

“Daniel knew this was a lifeline for him. His test at Silverstone was was outstanding last year, which was what provided the opportunity. Now, [it’s] for him to make use of them,” Horner told the written press at the Red Bull Ring, including Total-Motorsport.com.

“I’m sure by his own admission, the first part of the season didn’t go as planned. But he started to show signs of the old Daniel, we saw them in Miami, we saw certainly the first half part of the weekend there, we saw it in Montreal.

“Obviously that’s for [RB CEO] Peter [Bayer] and Laurent [Mekies to answer]. We’re working closely with him [Ricciardo] but for one there’s always pressure, he knows that better than anyone and particularly in Red Bull, when they’re all Red Bull Racing drivers. There’s always pressure regarding any team but Daniel is more than aware of that.”

RB boss hints Ricciardo has time

Red Bull adviser Helmut Marko, who oversees their junior driver program, claimed this week that the team’s plan for Ricciardo had been scrapped.

It is believed Liam Lawson has been lined up to replace Ricciardo for next season. However, RB chief Bayer hinted the eight-time race winner still has time to turn things around.

“He certainly has helped us tremendously,” Bayer added in the team bosses’ press conference. “Looking back last year when he joined the team, he brought a whole new energy and spirit into the team and he has been extremely helpful in supporting Yuki.

“He has stated, very recently actually, that he still keeps learning from Daniel and it’s part of our job also as a mission from the shareholders to develop drivers. And that’s what we currently do.

“As Christian said, this is about performance. We do luckily have a couple of options with the junior programme, but we’re also not in a hurry to take a decision for next year’s lineup.”

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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