Aussie star Daniel Ricciardo stands on the sidelines after his ugly sacking at McLaren ahead of an agonizing 2023 season. But according to a well-placed source, things will improve in 2024.
Daniel Ricciardo is set to have one hell of a season on the fringes of Formula 1, but according to David Croft, the holy grail of a top spot in 2024 is on the table.
The Australian veteran struggled to secure a ride for the new season, which begins this weekend in Bahrain, after being unceremoniously sacked by McLaren in mid-2022.
With interest only coming from teams lower down the grid, Ricciardo turned down all approaches, adamant he still had what it took to challenge for a world title.
Amid a furious contract saga that saw the 33-year-old dropped from the Papaya team in favor of compatriot Oscar Piastri, Red Bull rushed in with a lifeline and snapped up Ricciardo as reserve driver for 2023.
But with Sergio Perez’s contract, could Ricciardo become Max Verstappen’s partner again this year – four years after he left the Red Bull family?
“Never say never in F1,” Croft told Kayo Sports in an interview scheduled to air Friday night.
“More surprising things have happened and it wouldn’t surprise me if he and Max competed together in 2024.
“Personally, I think it’s a shame that he’s not on the starting lineup (this year). If he comes back with a better drive then we will all agree on the year.
“(But) It’s going to be a torturous 2023 for Danny. He says he’s not done yet and wants to return to Formula 1, but where does he fit in? On his day he is one of the most dynamic and exciting drivers.
“Should he have taken a route at Haas? Did he need a break? Did he have to recharge his batteries and find zest for life again? Only he can answer that.
“Where does he fit if not at Red Bull? It’s not a top 3 team, it’s not Alpine, it’s not Aston Martin and it’s not Mclaren, so where?
“The biggest key to his participation in Formula 1 lies in the relationship between Sergio and Max, which has not always been so smooth.
“It will be interesting to see how closely Danny works with Sergio, he has to look over his shoulder. It’s Sergio’s place to lose.”
Red Bull’s current driver duo were familiar with controversy when they crashed out at the Brazilian Grand Prix last year, where Verstappen refused team orders to let Perez pass.
While “plain text talks” were ordered and Red Bull team boss Christian Horner had to explain the dispute to the world’s media, Perez does not seem to let up.
Just days before the 2023 kickoff, Perez issued a stern warning to his colleague.
“It’s always important to work as a team, and if I see that I’m not getting support when I need it, then of course I’m not going to give it,” Perez said.
“It’s obvious, but I don’t expect anything from it.
“I think we’re clear on what’s important, it’s going to be a very intense season, certainly with six cars fighting for the championship, so working as a team in a lot of races will be very important.”
While echoing his Sky colleague’s opinion that 2023 will be one hell of a year for Ricciardo, Martin Brundle is confident Perez is safe at Red Bull.
As with most things in F1, it will come down to the money and the Mexican’s home support is a significant part of his appeal.
“I don’t think Sergio feels any pressure,” Brundle said. “He comes with a lot of Mexican support, let’s say.
“He’s a good combination with Max, he’s too experienced, he’s a grown-up among kids at times, but I wouldn’t say that’s going to faze him.
“It will be interesting for Daniel to see how many races he gets into, it will be purgatory for him to be behind the scenes not racing.
“He must feel like a spare bottle of champagne at a wedding.
“I’ve seen reserve riders look distressed on race weekends because they were born to race.
“He’s young enough and fast enough, but he’s lost. I think he would have been better off ‘doing a kimi’ and doing something else, collecting himself, doing nothing but missing out.”
Originally published when Daniel Ricciardo tipped to drive alongside Max Verstappen in 2024 after a year
https://www.codesports.com.au/motorsport/daniel-ricciardo-tipped-to-drive-alongside-max-verstappen-in-2024-after-a-year-on-the-sidelines/news-story/1d376352d21cc69ecec28972f20f5257?nk=ed0e62f23b5d1efad51e9c7ed2344dad-1677794345 F1 News: Daniel Ricciardo tipped to drive alongside Max Verstappen in 2024 after a year