Horner hollow sounding PR claims

The huge surprise of the week is the return of Daniel Ricciardo to the Formula One grid for the upcoming Hungarian Grand Prix. Having sacked their Formula E world champion Nyck de Vries after just ten races in his rookie season, Red Bull have offered the Aussie eight time Grand Prix winner a lifeline to revive his career at the pinnacle of global motorsport.

Ahead of this week’s race Christian Horner told the Beyond the Grid podcast that he believes Daniel Ricciardo has his eyes on a drive alongside Max Verstappen in 2025.



Horner insists Perez another year

This target date is stated because Red Bull have a nominal contract extension in place with Sergio Perez for next year and with twelve races remaining they need to motivate their Mexican driver to contribute towards the team winning the F1 constructors championship.

With the exception of Lance Stroll, Sergio has the worst record in terms of % points scored for the team amongst the mid pack of five chasing Red Bull. Yet Horner now claims that Checo is safe for next year regardless of how he continues to perform.

When questioned over the length of Ricciardo’s driving contract, the Red Bull boss replied:

McLaren BIG claim for Hungary



Ricciardo waiting till 2025?

“At the moment there’s only something in place until the end of the season,” Horner explained to Tom Clarkson. “So there’s no thoughts or expectations beyond that. 

“We’ve loaned him to AlphaTauri to the end of the year. Obviously, our drivers are going to be Max and Checo again next year. But it’s always good to have talent in reserve.

“I think Daniel is viewing AlphaTauri, he firmly wants to be pitching for that 2025 Red Bull seat. That’s his golden objective. And by going to AlphaTauri, I think he sees that as his best route of stating his case for 2025.”

Despite being the most experienced F1 manager on the grid, Christian Horner’s explanations of the recent turn of events has more holes in it than a fine Swiss cheese.

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Red Bull “stop gap” decisions

The Red Bull boss was always opposed to the rectuiment on 27 year old Nyck de Vries and explains to Clarkson why.

“Look, Nyck is a very capable driver, a Formula E champion, a Formula 2 champion, he’s obviously got a lot of experience, he’s not a young driver as such from an age perspective,” said Horner

“And I just didn’t see how it fitted within the junior programme. It was almost a stopgap.”

Yet once again the Red Bull management have made another ‘stop gap’ decision by appointing Daniel Ricciardo.

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Junior star rushing for F1

Red Bull have a star junior driver who many believed would be promoted to AlphaTauri this year ahead of Nyck De Vries. 

Liam Lawson took a step closer to a remarkable achievement of winning the Super Formula series in Japan as he claimed his third victory from six events in Fuji last weekend.

Lawson finished third in last season’s F2 championship and decided to race this year in Japan given the cars are closer to F1 than the equivalent European series.

Of course the door is open for Red Bull to appoint Lawson to AlphaTauri for 2024, though if Marko and Horner are to be believed it would be alongside Yuki Tsunoda who they repeatedly assert “is doing well.”

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Ricciardo out in 2024 ‘far fetched’

So then Ricciardo is out of the Red Bull family of permanent drivers again which makes Horner’s claim the Aussie is challenging for a drive at Red Bull for 2025 appear far fetched.

The reality is despite the team persistently praising Yuki Tsunoda and claiming he is doing everything they want, there are significant doubts over the truth of this positioning.

As previously mentioned Tsunoda on average finished less than three places ahead of the now sacked De Vries. Further in qualifying his average position was less than two ahead of his team mate and yet these are the results that saw the dutch driver dumped after ten races, something not seen in F1 for many a year.

The reality is the team have to keep Yuki happy because he is hot headed and his heart rules his head on track when the red mist descends. Yet the Japanese driver is now facing his sternest test as he must fight off the returning Ricciardo to save his F1 career which now hangs by a thread.



Perez is Ricciardo’s imminent target

Were Tsunoda to be allowed to leave at the end of the year, this of course allows the team to promote Lawson and retain Ricciardo at Alpha Tauri a situation now plausible with the Horner claim his eyes are on 2025.

However, the clock is ticking for Daniel who will be 36 years of age at the start of the 2025 season and as Sky F1 pundit Martin Brundle believes the Australian has a “secret deal” with Red Bull should he see off Tsunoda for the remainder of this year.

Further, Red Bull are known to be talking “extensively” to Lando Norris who will be out of contract for the beginning of the 2026 season. Its ridiculous to suggest the world champion team are hoping Ricciardo will merely fill the gap for a season while they wait for McLaren’s up and coming superstar.

Time is short for Ricciardo to regain a seat at F1’s top table and should he race well from here to Abu Dhabi, it’s not one F1 driver career he may end in Tsunoda, but he could send Perez into retirement as well.

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One response to “Horner hollow sounding PR claims

  1. Checo’s situation for next season is clear as long as he doesn’t underperform & Ricciardo simultaneously perform well, in which case, the former would be more under threat despite an existing contract until next year’s end, given contracts are always terminatable.
    Additionally, Tsunoda would indeed be under threat if Ricciardo regularly out-performs him despite the former having a considerable advantage in car familiarity.
    The other way around would most likely end Ricciardo’s F1 career for good, so all three are in some kind of pressure for the remaining season.
    Logically, Ricciardo should be an interim choice with Lawson taking over for next season, considering that good performance in a series like SF by a rookie is too much to overlook.
    However, he could equally replace Tsunoda, depending on circumstances, as clarified above.

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