Daniel Ricciardo claims he has “unfinished business” with Formula One despite being made redundant from McLaren with a year to run on his contract. The Woking CEO ,Zak Brown, had lost faith in the Australian who struggled with the McLaren cars driving alongside Lando Norris for two seasons.
During his first year driving the McLaren papaya coloured car, Ricciardo won the team’s first race since Jenson Button claimed the top step of the podium at the 2012 Brazilian GP. Yet in year two Ricciardo scored less than a quarter of the team’s points for the season an the writing was on the wall just following the summer break.
McLaren struggle in 2023
Yet only Lewis Hamilton (103), Max Verstappen (38), Fernando Alonso (32) and Valterri Bottas (10) of the current drivers have more GP wins than Ricciardo (8) who still has three more than Charles Leclerc.
A glance at the current F1 standings may give Ricciardo some consolation as McLaren have fallen from their challenge for the top four to being an also ran team with just 14 points from five races.
Further, Ricciardo’s replacement Oscar Piastri has just four points and at the same rate of accumulation, the young McLaren protege will fail to reach Ricciardo’s points tally from 2022.
Daniel of course returned to his “home” team Red Bull Racing as a reserve driver and informed Fox News today, “Right now, I do want to get back on the grid next year. I do feel like there’s certainly some unfinished business. I’m staying in the loop and staying prepared and whatever.”
Ricciardo set to drive RB19
The Aussie driver reveals, “I’ve been in the simulator, but I will drive the RB19 (for the first time) in July after the Silverstone race.”
“Then maybe I’ll get another one after Monza as well in September
“I’m certainly excited to drive a fast car, but also a car that maybe still feels familiar to me – it does a little bit in the sim.
“But I’m just excited to drive again and to just try to remind a team obviously I once had a lot of success with that I can still turn a fast lap.”
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Alpha Tauri struggle
There’s been much talk of the feud between Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen and the expectation is that should this resume Ricciardo will replace the Mexican driver.
Yet Daniel’s big opportunity to get back behind the wheel as early as the Canadian GP lies with Red Bull’s sister team Alpha Tauri.
With Pierre Gasly having left the ‘junior bulls’ Yukli Tsunoda is no their lead driver, though with the team having scored just two points its difficult to understand whether this is due entirely to the car or whether the current drivers are not delivering.
Gasly’s replacement was the much lauded Nyck de Vries who along with Logan Sargent are the only drivers yet to score a single championship point.
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Mark hands out ultimatum
De Vries came to F1 with a big reputation having won the Formula 2 title together with becoming Formula E champion with the Mercedes team. The Dutch driver has also competed in the 24 hours of Le Mans with a best ever result of P4 on the LMP2 category last year.
However, given his relative experience, De Vries does not have the usual settling in time that young rookies arriving in F1 are usually afforded. He was recruited to replace the team leader Gasly and is expected to deliver in his first season.
motorsport.com is reporting that De Vries has been given an ultimatum by Red Bull consultant Dr. Helmut Marko who issued to be disappointed in his performances over the first five races of the year.
The Dutch driver has allegedly been given just three more races to score points or face being replaced. Marko had ear marked De Vries to take on the mantle from Gasly as team leader which clearly has not come to pass.
De Vries expected to lead
When discussing his new recruit last October, Marko claimed, “Yuki is young and does not have the background and experience that Nyck has.
“We will see how it goes next year, but looking at his experience and his personality, then De Vries has to become the team leader of AlphaTauri.”
Cut off for new team applications this week
Ricciardo seat fitting with AT
Red Bull are notoriously ruthless with their ‘young’ drivers and have repeatedly demoted them – even mid season on previous occasions.
Daniel Ricciardo is rumoured to have visited Faenza for a set fitting with Alpha Tauri in the past few days which of course has fuelled the speculation further he could be replacing De Vries as early as at the Canadian GP.
Ricciardo would offer the team a bench mark as to how well Yuki is performing together with being able to offer feedback on the capability of Alpha Taurus current car.
READ MORE: Red Bull slam Andretti out of F1
Daniel Ricciardo gives his take on the Taylor Swift rumours surrounding F1 😅 pic.twitter.com/8pCqxMi3dv
— ESPN F1 (@ESPNF1) May 10, 2023
Is it really worth them buying out his McLaren contract just to be running near the back of the grid in an AT?