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Formula 1 Austrian GP

Ricciardo thinks he has time to save RB F1 seat despite Marko comments

Australian F1 driver Ricciardo knows he must impress Red Bull in the next few races after recent comments from Helmut Marko piled pressure on his position

Daniel Ricciardo, RB F1 Team

Daniel Ricciardo, RB F1 Team

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Daniel Ricciardo believes his results in the 2024’s pre-summer break races are key to his RB Formula 1 stint continuing, as interest in Red Bull’s intentions in promoting Liam Lawson intensifies.

This week, comments made by Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko have heaped pressure on Ricciardo, who had been expected to be a candidate to replace Sergio Perez alongside Max Verstappen for 2025 before his results this term were initially poor.

This is specifically in relation to Ricciardo’s RB team-mate Yuki Tsunoda, who has outscored the Australian by 19-9 in points terms and will stay with the squad until 2025.

Red Bull also moved to re-sign Perez on a new deal potentially covering up to the end of 2026.

This has created a logjam in its junior driver programme, with Lawson - who impressed standing in for the injured Ricciardo in five races after Nyck de Vries was dropped mid-way through 2023 - understood to be free to leave the Red Bull fold if it cannot offer him a 2025 race drive.

"The shareholders have made it known that [RB] is a junior team and we have to act accordingly," Marko said in an interview with Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung.

"The goal was that [Ricciardo] would be considered for Red Bull Racing with exceptional performances," he added. "That seat now belongs to Sergio Perez, so that plan is no longer valid.

"We have to put a young driver in there soon. That would be Liam Lawson."

Daniel Ricciardo, RB F1 Team VCARB 01

Daniel Ricciardo, RB F1 Team VCARB 01

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

When asked about Marko’s comments by Autosport ahead of this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, Ricciardo replied: “I don't feel one way or another about it.

“I still know that the overriding thing in this sport is performance. That's it. And that's what will give me my best chance of staying here.

“I know that. It's not going to be my smile or anything else. It's the on-track stuff. So, I've obviously got a good opportunity.

“Obviously, I say until the summer break. I don't think that's a deadline. But that's what you look at for the first half of the season.

“[I’ll] try to do what I can and obviously help my cause.”

The new speculation on Ricciardo’s position within the Red Bull fold follows RB's poor showing with new upgrades to its 2024 car last weekend at the Spanish GP, where Ricciardo was 15th and Tsunoda ended up 19th.

“I look back at Barcelona and it's hard to get excited about a 15th, but I actually was really happy with my race,” Ricciardo said.

“So, I would say it's at least now two better weekends in a row [after he was eighth, with Tsunoda out of the points, having qualified fifth in Canada].

“I think that's what I've certainly had trouble doing this year – having a kind of string of good results.

“Two still not enough, of course, at least for where I want to be, but now we have more ahead and so I definitely have a chance to get into the summer break with some momentum.

“And on the Helmut stuff, yeah, honestly, it's fine. It doesn't change, let's say, what I'm going to do.”

In the same media session at the Red Bull Ring, Ricciardo reflected on how he’s “sure the qualifying fifth in Montreal made Helmut smile”.

He added: “If I can do that a few more times, I'm sure I'll make him smile. It's still so heavily on performance and yeah, [I’ll] just keep focus on that.”

Ricciardo also admitted he does not have any other options to stay on the F1 grid for 2025 if Red Bull does choose to give Lawson his RB seat.

“Do I have other options? I would say no,” he said. “I mean, I don't know. I'm not to be stubborn or arrogant about it, but I'm not looking anywhere else.

“I've said it, I really do enjoy being back in the [Red Bull] family.

“I weirdly do enjoy sometimes a little bit of pokes from Helmut because I think it can also be a way to get me a little bit fired up and try to get the best out of me.

“So yeah. In short [on options to race elsewhere], no.”

Ricciardo’s future is also complicated by the outcome of 2024’s Red Bull management war.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner – who still faces the outcome of an appeal over the result of the initial investigation into his behaviour towards a female employee, plus an FIA probe into the matter – is understood to be very supportive of his position.

Additional reporting by Jonathan Noble

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