Ricciardo admits his F1 future is in doubt


Ricciardo is a product of the Red Bull young driver program, having been invited to a young driver test in Jerez in December 2009. He impressed with a time one second quicker than anyone else on the final day of the test and was appointed as a Red Bull ‘family’ test driver alongside his 2010 Renault World Series team mate, Brendon Hartley.

At the following end of season young driver test, Ricciardo was confirmed as the sole representative of the Red Bull team. Upon hearing this announcement, Ricciardo commented, “I can’t wait to get another crack at driving Red Bull Racing’s amazing Formula One car.

The test was in Abu Dhabi following the final F1 race of the season. Daniel dominated the test and delivered a lap 1.3 seconds quicker than Sebastian Vettel had done in the previous weekend’s F1 qualifying session.

The following season in 2011, Ricciardo was offered regular FP1 practice sessions with Toro Rosso, and team principal Franz Tost remarked, “having a hungry youngster on the books will keep our current driver pairing nice and sharp.” His comments were directed at the Toro Rosso race drivers Jaime Alguersuari and Sébastien Buemi.

During that season, Red Bull facilitated the replacement of HRT driver with Ricciardo and the Aussie made his full F1 debut at the British GP. Then in December of that year, Toro Rosso announced they were replacing both their F1 race drivers with Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne.

In the span of a single season, Daniel Ricciardo rose through the F1 driver ranks from being an also-ran in Toro Rosso, to being considered as a future world champion F1 driver with Red Bull. His undeniable pummelling of Sebastian Vettel in 2014, in addition to his 3 race wins, put the Ricciardo name on every one’s lips in the paddock.

Despite the disappointments of this year, Daniel has remained loyal and positive about his Red Bull team and family, refusing to criticise the team but also not engaging with the war of words between Red Bull and Renault. Ricciardo knows his roots and knows who he has to thank for his current position.

But now, there are signs that the young Australian is starting to lose faith in the Red Bull dream and in Sochi he openly admitted considering an alternative future in Formula One. Dietricht Mateschitz has now set and end of October deadline to resolve the Red Bull engine crisis, so the threat of him withdrawing his two teams from the sport is now perilously close to being realised.

“I haven’t thought about the negative potential outcome of it yet”, revealed Ricciardo last Thursday. “I’m still pretty positive. It’s good that Dietrich has set a bit of a deadline because we have got to know what we are doing and if we are going with ‘X’ engine then we have got to start designing the car and all the rest of it.

“We can’t wait until Christmas, so we will see in a few more weeks if we get a decision or an outcome. I’m still positive as long as we have still got time on our side. It’s not the end of October yet, so I’ll remain positive and if we get to the end of October and nothing has been sorted then I’ll for sure start having my eyes and ears a little bit more open about what else is going on.

“I think we will get something that is decent enough to convince us to stay in the sport and that means giving us a chance to win.”

By Friday, Daniel was being more candid.

“Obviously I want to be racing, I want to be on the grid, but if someone said you’re going to be racing but you’ll be running 16th, then maybe I don’t want to be racing. If they [Renault] can prepare something better than they have this year to give us a chance to fight further up the grid, it is one of the better options for now. 

We still can’t rule out anything, but we do want something competitive… just to run around and make up numbers is not what we are about and as a driver I am not really interested in that. A few manufacturers keep saying no, so obviously the options are getting less and less.

It is getting more difficult now [but] we will try and find a solution. Of course I want to be racing and it will be a shame if we are not racing. I am still optimistic we can find a solution but it seems like nobody wants to give us an engine.”

However, should Red Bull and Toro Rosso withdraw from the sport, Ricciardo’s options appear limited for 2016. There is the second seat partner Romain Grosjean at the new Haas team up for grabs and if Lotus survive in some form or other Danny could partner Pastor Maldonado.

A Ricciardo/Grosjean pairing would be indeed a coup for Gene Haas, though there is the matter of 3 car teams to be considered also.

That said, when 3 car teams were flavour of the month this time last year, the consensus appeared to be a decision would have to be made by the end of October were this to be a feasible proposition.

Sauber might fancy a driver of Ricciardo’s qualities, though it is questionable whether he has the big financial backing that current drivers Nasr and Ericsson bring. Then again given Sauber’s deteriorating performance this year, the Ferrari backed Haas may look a better place to be.

Of course if Matechitz does press the button marked ‘red’ and take the nuclear option, a young Max Verstappen becomes available too. The question is whether Max’s momentum puts him ahead of Riciardo’s experience – and in the end a winning smile only goes so far.

12 responses to “Ricciardo admits his F1 future is in doubt

  1. TR do have a deal with Ferrari but Matechitz has said both teams need good engine deal or he pulls them both!

  2. Hm, so Smirker’s too much of a prodigy to be “running round in 16th” whilst two drivers with three WDCs between them are prepared to toddle round at the back of the grid pending development of the McClaren. This is not to justify the appalling McHonda or RB’s abysmal management of their relationship with Renault, but the situation stands comparison.

  3. every ***ing time I lose my input as, despite being logged in to WP, hitting submit returns me to the ****ing WP login and nixes my post – even though below this you confirm the mechanism by which I’m posting!!!!!!
    ****ing infuriating

  4. I’ll try AGAIN.
    Smirker’s too important then to “run around in 16th”. Ignoring RB & McHonda’s equally (but different) mismanagement, two drivers with 3 WDCs between them are patient enough to endure the back of the grid pending development. Whether that’s a wise decision, who knows? And of course they’re at the distal end of their careers. But…
    But that Smirker’s had far too much adulation and his head’s swelling. Mind you there are lots of oversized helmets in the paddock these days.

    • It is most unusual to see someone dissing DR. Nothing wrong with having a contrary outlook. I have never been able to view him as the second coming unlike most.
      Competent, Webberesque even.
      Pummelled?? Hardly.

    • Again vettel playing ultimate mind games. Let’s be honest, vettel would have known about Renaults 2014 performance as early as 2012, but definitely
      by mid 2013 – exactly when he signed with Ferrari. This is why Ferrari had to get rid of Alonso on Alonso’s terms lol.

      Anyways, you cannot pick a better season to have an off year and daniel ric is just a victim of vettel’s brilliance. Winning 4 and a row and technically signed with your dream team it’s not hard to take a year off. Daniel was an unknown, so if you know your teammate winning was the best way out of your contract daniel was the perfect opportunity. If he had lost to Webber that badly it would be a different conversation but to Ricardo, well, maybe riccardo was a flash in the pan, vettel clearly isn’t. now Dan has to be so much better than ever expected because of this fluke season he has to live up to. It’s a lose/lose for Dan and a win/win for vettel (Ferrari contract/no long term legacy damage).

      Also – to the author. Love the integrity of your story, really liked how mentioning track evolution between qualifying, support races, a full f1 race, and multiple test sessions had no implications on DR’s fastest lap time. I’m pleased to be able to thank you actually, we as readers and consumers of your product appreciate your integrity. We understand that if we actually cared about, you know, context, then we would want to be told thAt a track will typically get 2-3 seconds faster over a weekend and if you have test sessions following a race that times 4 seconds faster have been recorded.

      But who cares about silly facts like that!!! We just want to read DR was seconds faster than vettel because we’re desperate for more than a few inspired performances in 2014.

      Integrity. It’s why we love your stories!

  5. If Red Bull quits, Raikkonen probably gets a paid vacation. The question will be, who’s the highest on the Ferrari wish list and what does Mercedes offer Verstappen (the management of Verstappen is in talks with both parties).

    Toto Wolf is a huge fan of Verstappen and might not want to see him being signed up by Ferrari, and by so might feel obligated to make an offer to Verstappen about replacing Rosberg in the not so near future. And in that case, Ferrari makes room for Ricciardo.

    • Max vs Lewis would be interesting. Coming full circle in the Lewis vs Alonso saga.

      If max beat Lewis it would ruin his career forever considering max would still be basically a rookie. Lewis had unlimited testing before his first year in F1 – much more track time than a current f1 season allows.

      • F1 could be just inches away from the most epic battle ever seen. Ferrari being more competitive and Ricciardo and Verstappen also in the mix with a competitive car (at either Red Bull with a competitive engine or Ricciardo at Ferrari and Verstappen with Mercedes). You have 3 fast drivers who can brake late + another driver (Vettel) who’s also fast and very consistent. And if Honda gets its act together, Alonso still could join the party too.

        I don’t think it will all happen in ’16 yet, but in ’17 and the following seasons there’s a good change we could see multiple very good drivers going for the World Driver Championship at the same time…how dark the clouds over F1 now may look (with Mercedes dominance and the Red Bull engines problems), it could all change quickly into one epic battle in the upcoming years (and let’s hope it does).

    • I heard recently that Max signed for Ferrari in 2017.

      Bare in mind if RBR pulls out, there will be 3 car teams, so Danny Ric could go anywhere.

  6. @thejudge13 wrote and if Lotus survive in some form or other Danny could partner Pastor Maldonado.
    What engine will Lotus use, if Renault decide not to take up their option to purchase the team?

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