Ricciardo accepts midfield team return to F1

Daniel Ricciardo was the first Formula One driver with Grand Prix wins under his belt in recent memory to be sacked mid-contract – and by McLaren who are hardly a front running team.

It was a costly separation for Zak Brown reportedly seeing the Aussie ace paid $18m to sit on his hands for a season.




Haas F1 offer Ricciardo a chance

Ricciardo’s departure was announced late in August and added to one of the silliest of silly seasons in the F1 driver market. Vettel had announced his retirement from F1 and a day later Alonso revealed he would be replacing the German quadruple world champion at Aston Martin.

Having sacked Ricciardo, McLaren then announced they were recruiting fellow Australian and Alpine junior driver Oscar Piastri. Alpine though had other ideas and fought the alleged breach of contract with the FIA’s contract recognition board.

Piastri won his right to leave the team and so Alpine were left high and dry but eventually persuaded Pierre Gasly to leave the Red Bull family to join the Enstone based team.

Riccardo had options to retain his place on the grid with Haas boss Gunther Steiner telling the Associated Press, “If he’s interested in us, he’s not shy to call me up. I won’t chase him down.”



Ricciardo wants top team F1 drive

The Netflix documentary Drive to Survive filmed during last season later revealed there had been some communication between Ricciardo’s management and Haas during a scene with Steiner and his Danish driver Magnussen discussing who should replace Mick Schumacher who was leaving the team.

Magnussen suggests Ricciardo to his boss who revealed the Aussie driver wanted 10 million, which was clearly not an option.

Publicly Ricciardo had repeatedly stated he would not join a team that wasn’t competing at the front.

“I don’t want to go back to ground zero,” the Aussie was quoted stating in several publications. 

“I don’t want to just be on the grid [in order] to be on the grid and struggle in 18th place. So I don’t want to be on the grid at any cost.”

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Yet with the top F1 teams’ drivers fairly much nailed down for next year, Ricciardo’s stated preference appears unlikely to be fulfilled. His present role as Red Bull reserve driver looks to be his best option should Sergio Pérez implode and the team fail to take up the option on the second year of his contract.

Having sat out of Formula One for six months this year it appears Ricciardo is lowering his sights on what it will take for him to return to the grid implying to ESPN he would be prepared to drive for AlphaTauri the Red Bull junior outfit which runs other drivers it has under contract.

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

“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.”



De Vries under pressure

Reports last month which suggested Ricciardo was set to replace the under performing Nyck de Vries have so far been proved wide of the mark. AlphaTauri’s team boss Franz Tost is a firm believer that it takes three years for drivers new to Formula One to find their feet.

Speaking specifically about his newly recruited FormulaE champion driver in Monaco, Tost said:

“And Nyck, as I always say, if a rookie is coming to Formula One, he needs minimum three years to understand what’s going on here.”

Tost is set to retire at the end of the year being replaced by Ferrari’s Laurent Mekies, so whether de Vries will be given the time Tost believes he requires will be down the view of the new team principal.

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Tsunoda future at risk

It appears more likely that AlphaTauri’s inconsistent Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda who is now in his Thord F1 season may be under pressure.

He has scored just 2 points in 8 races this season which sees the Faenza based team rooted firmly to the bottom of the constructors’ table even behind the Williams team.

During a simulcast at the recent Canadian Grand Prix Ricciardo revealed his desire to return to the grid next year.

“I know I can come back as a more complete version of myself.” 



Horner says Ricciardo has “mojo” back

This was something Red Bull boss Christian Horner appeared to agree with when he recently complimented Ricciardo for his work in the simulator and believed the Aussie had got his “mojo” back after his torrid time with McLaren.

Horner also revealed that in his attempt to adapt his driving style to difficult cars during his time at Renault and McLaren, Ricciardo had picked up some “bad habits.”

“It was clear when he came back that he picked up some habits that we didn’t recognise as the Daniel that had left us two or three years earlier.”

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Ricardo actually spent four years away from Red Bull, driving for two years each at Renault and McLaren.

Looking forward it seems Ricciardo’s best option is to remain in the Red Bull family given both Ferrari drivers, George Russell and the Aston Martin pairing will remain with their current teams into 2024.

Whilst there have been inordinate delays in Lewis Hamilton signing his new contract with Mercedes it is expected the seven  times F1 world champion will eventually agree terms with his team though at present it appears Mercedes are pushing back against some of Lewis’ demands.

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