Following another disastrous day for Sergio Perez during the practice sessions at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen claims the door is open for Daniel Ricciardo to return as his team mate.
Sergio crashed his RB19 during an out lap at the Hungaroring in first practice destroying the front of his car along with the new side pod design and the associated cooling system Red Bull have produced in their biggest update of the season.
Albon equals Perez qualifying in 2023
The Mexican driver has made it into final qualifying just four times in the ten previous races this season and despite his reputation as a solid driver is looking as though his Formula One career could be coming to an abrupt end.
Williams driver Alex Albon in a far inferior car has achieved final qualifying on the same number of occasions as Checo despite driving a car that is grouped with the back of the grid teams.
The Red Bull mechanics were able to repair Perez car for the start of free proactive two though a massive lock up on the soft tyre left the second Red Bull car only able to complete 13 laps in the second practice session way behind Alex Albon and Lance Stroll who clocked up 32 laps in the session.
The restricted tyre allocation proposed for 2024 is being tried this weekend where each driver has two sets of tyres less than during the current regular Grand Prix weekends.
Perez destroys Hungarian F1 weekend
Having destroyed two sets of his four soft tyres, Checo is in for a tough remainder of the weekend requiring one set for final qualifying should he make it and another for what is expected to be a two stop race.
Of even greater concern is the fact that Perez crash means he has now used the spare parts the team have brought for his car and another big incident could see the Red Bull driver unable to complete on the Grand Prix.
Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko told Motorsport Magazine, “He came onto the grass and because of the rain, it was slippy. So that’s why he flew off.”
Yet the under pressure Perez was the only driver to inflict such damage on his car while the rest of the field found their way around in tricky wet conditions.
No more spare parts for Sergio
Marko confirmed, ”We have enough spares, for both cars,” indicating for now Checo has the same upgraded car as he began the weekend with.
Dr. Marko was asked to confirm whether Sergio was now facing another three track sessions in Hungary without any further spare parts.
“No [he has none],” Marko confirmed.
With the sacking of Nyck De Vries by the Red Bull junior team Alpha Tauri speculation has been rife his replacement who is an eight times Grand Prix winner, Daniel Ricciardo, is being assessed as a replacement for Sergio Perez.
Ricciardo mounts bid to replace Perez
Ricciardo’s first outing in the AlphaTauri saw him just over 0.4 seconds behind his team mate Yuki Tsunoda though the Australian never looked like he was pushing the limits.
Perez now has to be careful in Saturday morning’s practice session and again in the revised qualifying format later in the afternoon.
Most F1 observers believe Perez is safe until at least the end of the season and nominally has a contract to drive for them again in 2024.
Yet should Checo fail to make final qualifying for the sixth time in a row, whilst his team mate is claiming pole position week in week out, the ruthless Red Bull management may call time on his time with the world champions which would pave the way for either Tsunoda or Ricciardo to take his place in the championship wining car.
Daniel admits sights set on Perez seat
By accepting the vacant seat at AplhaTauri Daniel Ricciardo has dropped his previous demand after being sacked by McLaren to only return to an F1 team at the front of the grid.
Yet the likeable Aussie is frank about his ambitions claiming the seat alongside Max Verstappen “is where I want to be. I’m not going to weave my way around it”.
World Champion Max Verstappen was questioned over Ricciardo’s return to the Red Bull fold where he started as the junior driver to Sebastian Vettel. Having beaten the quadruple German world champion in his first season at Red Bull, Ricciardo forced Vettel into a decision that would see him leave his championship wining team and move to Ferrari.
Ricciardo stayed and fought against Verstappen his young team mate and for the best part of three seasons and performed admirably against the future F1 superstar.
Verstappen regrets Ricciardo leaving
Yet a huge incident in Baku where Verstappen and Ricciardo came together at over 200mph on the main straight appeared to decide for the Aussie it was time to move to pastures green for 2019.
However when asked by assembled media in Hungary, Verstappen revealed he never wanted Ricciardo to leave Red Bull and th path is open for him to return in replacement of Perez.
“I mean, I never actually wanted him to leave,” said Verstappen
“But no, I mean, all of these things. We know that we get on very well.
“And yeah, I mean, if Daniel of course does well where he is now, then of course you have the opportunity to go back up, right? So it’s all open to be honest.”
Ricciardo/Tsunoda battle to replace Perez
Ricciardo has this weekend and the back to back F1 event in Belgium before the summer break to familiarise himself with the AlphaTauri car which is last in the pecking order as the championship stands at present.
The as Formula One enters its final ten races in the autumn, the Aussie needs to prove he is a better choice than Tsunoda to fill the the inevitable vacant seat Perez is set to offer up.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 21, 2023