The ‘hidden’ truth that Daniel Ricciardo clings to as the future is decided ‘in days’

Daniel Ricciardo expected this season to have been very different.

Before the season, the 34-year-old was talking about a big game because he believed his Visa Cash App RB team was ready to start challenging the midfield.

While RB are in sixth place in the constructors’ championship, one point behind the team’s entire 2023 season where they finished eighth, it is not for the reason the F1 world thought.

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Having been signed midway through last season, Ricciardo was believed to be the main driver in line to replace Sergio Perez and join world champion Max Verstappen at Red Bull.

But after eight races, the pressure is on Ricciardo as he fights for his future not only in RB, but also in Formula One.

Expected to have quickly overtaken teammate Yuki Tsunoda, after eight races the young Japanese has a 7-1 lead in qualifying, a 6-1 record in races (both DNFs in China) and a lead 19-5 in the final. drivers championship table.

Not only that, but Ricciardo has not been seen as a “real alternative” to Perez, as the Mexican appears set to re-sign with Red Bull. reports that the deal could be signed “in the coming days.”

And with the top team almost ready, attention will turn to the junior team with 22-year-old New Zealander Liam Lawson waiting in the wings.

As pressure mounts, Ricciardo is believed to have six races until the summer break to change the conversation as he fights for a 2025 contract.

Ricciardo could be running out of time.  Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
Ricciardo could be running out of time. Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

While it remains to be seen whether this is a vote of confidence or a kiss of death, RB team boss Laurent Mekies said that although Ricciardo’s results were not there, the experienced campaigner had much more to offer.

“It is very lucky for this team to have a pairing of Yuki and Daniel,” Mekies told

“Daniel specifically, in the context of projects, where the team needs to go and help identify the gaps, it helps enormously to have someone like Daniel who has won eight races, has been on a few teams and knows where the board can be and where the board must go.

“So his contribution to the team has been enormous. So even when in the first few races the performance was in the uncomfortable zone, you were still bringing a tremendous amount of value to the team.

“We have been seeing very strong progress, some of that has been hidden from you.

“But in fact the race in Australia was better than the one in Saudi Arabia. Japan was better than Australia. You start to see that China was better than Japan and Miami was better than China.

“So we think we’re on a trajectory and, to answer your question, he’s been extremely unemotional about it. He’s been completely rational, looking at it with us saying ‘this is what I can do, this is what I can’t do with the car’. That’s why I can’t do that in the corner. This is what I need to do in that corner.

“And it’s been a learning experience for both us and him, and we have things that come to the car, short-term and long-term, to try to (use that) learn from the requests that he’s made that will eventually allow him to express himself in the best way possible.” manner”.

With his future potentially hanging in the balance, Ricciardo knows he has to find more.

Ricciardo can’t help but smile. Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Having taken the F1 world by storm with an impressive fourth place in the sprint race in Miami, these remain the only points he has been able to score in 2024.

“The difference (with Tsunoda), maybe we’ll find something that (explains) why I lost a little bit here or there,” Ricciardo said.

“There will probably always be something: this is F1 and it is never perfect.

“I am not happy with having these loopholes. I think that’s what frustrates me a little. Obviously the team has been great and they’ve supported me a lot and obviously they know I can do it.

“But this year it’s been a little bit more complicated to do it week in and week out, and that’s where I’m really focusing now, rather than getting too comfortable or excited about what the future holds.

“I want to do better, whether it’s for the car or for me.”

But even without moving towards Tsunoda’s lead in the season, it is not a clear case that Ricciardo will be forced to leave the sport.

Tsunoda could save Ricciardo’s career. Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Recently, Tsunoda revealed that he would consider offers from rival F1 teams if he is not promoted to Verstappen’s partner.

He has already been linked with moves for both Aston Martin and Haas.

“Yeah, I mean, I’m very happy with the VCARB so far,” Tsunoda said.

“I mean, now we’re fighting, like, almost… Yeah, sometimes even like P7 or P8.

“So I mean other options… and probably now the best teams are practically taken, so… I mean, we are probably the strongest team at least in the midfield. We’ll see.

“I think obviously, especially when I’m at Red Bull, you always want to aim for Red Bull.

“But if they don’t want me or don’t wait for me in the seat, if I have an interesting offer that could be even better than VCARB or Red Bull, I will think about it.

“But I also have great loyalty to Red Bull because without them I wouldn’t be here. And obviously Honda too.

“And speaking of Honda, maybe Aston Martin, but you know, Aston too, they are driven by two drivers. So yeah, I mean, it’s pretty open-ended, but so far I’m happy with VCARB.”

The connection with Honda will play an important role in Tsunoda’s future in the sport as Red Bull leaves behind its successful partnership with the engine manufacturer at the end of next season.

Honda will agree a deal with Aston Martin from 2026 and have previously said they would like to continue working with Honda Racing School graduate Tsunoda in the future.

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