Formula 1 Racing

How long should Red Bull give Ricciardo to prove he’s not lost his touch? · RaceFans

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“I don’t what you did to him,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner remarked last year to his opposite number at McLaren, Zak Brown.

He was talking about Daniel Ricciardo, who had returned to the Red Bull fold after Brown cut short his three-year deal to drive for McLaren one season early. Horner was commenting on Ricciardo looking physically fitter than he had the previous season, but also had plenty to say about how the former Red Bull junior’s driving appeared to have deteriorated since leaving the team at the end of 2018.

“The problem is when you drive a car that obviously has its limitations, you adapt and you try and adjust to extract the maximum out of that car,” said Horner. “It was clear when he came back, that he picked up some habits that… we didn’t recognise as the Daniel that that had left us two or three years earlier.”

A few months later Red Bull put Ricciardo in one of their cars for a tyre test. The Netflix cameras were on hand to capture the redemptive moment for the Drive to Survive star and Red Bull duly declared his run a success. Nyck de Vries, not yet halfway through his rookie season at Red Bull’s second team AlphaTauri, was shown the door to make way for Ricciardo’s comeback to an F1 race seat.

After being knocked off his stride by a wrist injury which temporarily put him back on the sidelines, Ricciardo’s performance in the Mexican Grand Prix soon after his return seemed to vindicate Red Bull’s faith in him. He put his AT04 fourth on the grid, ahead of Sergio Perez, whose poor campaign last year long marked him out as a target for replacement. Ricciardo finished seventh and was on course for better before a mid-race red flag.

With AlphaTauri transforming into RB this year, and declaring they would use Red Bull’s dominant design as a reference for this year’s car, expectations were high for Ricciardo. At the team’s launch he targeted top five finishes in the first half of the season.

But three races in he is yet to score a point. Yuki Tsunoda delivered the first score for the renamed RB team last weekend, while Ricciardo failed to reach Q2.

Ricciardo, who has won eight grands prix and started well over 200, was predicted by many to spend 2024 putting Tsunoda in the shade while staking his claim to a return to Red Bull next year. Instead rumours have already begun circulating that he may not see out the season.

Although recent claims RB might replace him with his Ricciardo substitute Liam Lawson as…

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