Daniel Ricciardo hints at Red Bull seat potential with one catch…

The Australian is back at his home race after being forced to miss 2023 without an F1 drive

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Daniel Ricciardo admits he is aware of the pressure on Sergio Perez at Red Bull and the potential fruits of a good season at RB, but also confessed he is not focusing on that at the moment and declares he must improve his qualifying.

Perez spent much of the 2023 Formula 1 season under intense scrutiny from media and Helmut Marko as he completely lost his form throughout much of the campaign and finished with fewer than half the number of points that Max Verstappen scored as he went on to win 19 times.

So much of the talk has been if that continued then Perez could be out of his seat opening the door for names such as Liam Lawson, Yuki Tsunoda, Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso and, of course, Ricciardo himself but the Australian isn’t focusing on that right now.

“I don’t buy into any of the stories if you will,” Ricciardo said to the media ahead of the 2024 Australian Grand Prix. “I know, obviously, what my position is in the team. I know what, let’s say, some potential things that could happen if I do really well, but that’s all.

“I think any team you’re with, if you have a really strong season then it could lead to maybe something different or increase your position where you currently are. It’s always our objective to do the best we can, and I think whatever happens, will happen or can happen, but for me, my objective is to drive this car as good as I can.

“I think I’m definitely not looking too far ahead. So, am I thinking about the Red Bull seat that you speak of? No. I know if I do some really good results, maybe then that that can present itself potentially, but it’s not something I think about because 12 months ago I wasn’t in this position, I didn’t know if I would be back in this position and so I think I just take it weekend after weekend.”

Daniel Ricciardo of Visa Cash App RB and McLaren's Oscar Piastri during Drivers Press Conference ahead of 2024 Australian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Daniel Ricciardo of Visa Cash App RB and McLaren’s Oscar Piastri during Drivers Press Conference ahead of 2024 Australian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Ricciardo hears Marko’s warning

Ricciardo had re-joined Red Bull, who he departed in 2018, after four seasons in the midfield following the termination of his contract with McLaren after two seasons, and it didn’t take him long to get back onto the grid as Ricciardo was brought back into the F1 fold to replace Nyck de Vries at RB (then AlphaTauri) in 2023, after serving as Red Bull’s reserve driver

The decision came after a successful test shortly after the British GP, in which Ricciardo’s fastest lap was said to have been a couple of tenths off the pole position time when adjusted for fuel and other conditions.

He made his second career ‘debut’ at the 2023 Hungarian GP and showed promising signs in the final races of the season when he returned from a broken wrist sustained in the 2023 Dutch GP but so far in 2024, it hasn’t continued that way.

He has been out-qualified by Tsunoda twice and, whilst their race head-to-head is one each that’s partially as Ricciardo was the beneficiary of team orders that were not later undone when he could not pass Kevin Magnussen at the Bahrain International Circuit.

The result is that Marko basically said he needs to get a move on by saying “he has to come up with something soon,” but how does the 34-year-old Aussie feel about his own qualifying performances?  

“Of course I want to be qualifying in Q3. I want to get these results that I believe I can,” Ricciardo continued. “But we’re in such a tight midfield and like Bahrain in qualifying, I knew I didn’t put the lap together I should have, and I put my hand up for that.

“And that’s a difference, that’s a difference from maybe 14th to a Q3. I think at the end of Q1 in Saudi from ninth to 16th it was less than a tenth. So, you can very quickly look like a hero or not and that’s where every tenth counts, and that’s where, obviously, I look to myself first.”

Ricciardo added: “The first two races haven’t been amazing, but it’s not a concern. I think it’s two races out of 24 and there’s a lot of new people in the team.

“So, it’s very early but I do definitely want to have a strong weekend and do well.”

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