The stats that damned Ricciardo’s Red Bull dream and what they mean for his F1 future

By | June 6, 2024

The stats that damned Ricciardo’s Red Bull dream and what they mean for his F1 future

When Daniel Ricciardo suited up in his new RB overalls at the start of the season, he thought he could be embarking on the first chapter of his fairytale.

That he was back on the grid as a full-time racer was already miraculous. Chewed up and spat out by a McLaren still many months away from its frontrunning comeback, he faced an early F1 retirement as a burnt-out former future champion.

But then he landed himself a reserve gig at his old Red Bull Racing team. A testing program allowed him to rediscover his mojo, and by the middle of the year he lucked into a seat at AlphaTauri, now RB, when Nyck de Vries was deemed surplus to requirements.

The trajectory was set. With Sergio Pérez struggling badly late in 2023, Ricciardo needed only to show at RB what he had done in the Red Bull Racing simulator and in that now famous Silverstone tyre test and his old seat would be his again.

“This for me would be like the fairytale,” he told ESPN. “Honestly, the fairytale ending [would be] to finish my career [at Red Bull Racing] if I could have it all my own way.

“But we’ll see. I’ll probably have to work my way up a little bit, but it’s really nice to be back here.”

That fairytale ending was taken off the table this week, when Red Bull Racing re-signed Pérez for another two seasons, keeping the Mexican in place until the end of 2026.

The decision was on one hand surprising. Pérez held the most desirable seat in Formula 1 with no shortage of suitors. Red Bull Racing could have afforded to wait.

That’s particularly true given the six-time race winner has shown a concerning drop in form in the last two rounds. Knocked out in Q2 and Q1 in Imola and Monte Carlo respectively, Pérez was suddenly looking like the 2023 version of himself that had seemed sure to lose him his drive late last year.

But on the other hand, Pérez has the power of incumbency in a team that has suddenly prioritised stability after its chaotic start to the year off the circuit.

He was a known quantity, even if that quantity is a little bit lacking.

That’s still one up on Ricciardo, whose capacity to return to form remains a mystery almost a year into his post-McLaren comeback.

Daniel Ricciardo is still searching for consistency. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *