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Daniel Ricciardo’s career has been on a downhill ever since he left Red Bull after the 2018 season. And 2018 was also the year when Max Verstappen smashed Ricciardo in the championship, finishing 69 points ahead of him. Rumors suggested that Ricciardo left because he couldn’t take the heat from Verstappen and wanted to move to a team where he’ll be the No.1 driver. And now, Max Verstappen has reportedly sabotaged Ricciardo’s chance of getting the Red Bull seat back for 2025 again. But how?

Daniel Ricciardo did not have a great start to the 2024 F1 season, after being consistently outperformed by teammate Yuki Tsunoda. Going into the Chinese GP, Tsunoda had seven points to his name, whereas Ricciardo had none. Ricciardo had requested the team for a new chassis as he wasn’t comfortable in the previous one and it arrived in time for the Chinese GP. And we have to say, it looked pretty good for the Australian driver throughout the weekend, until it didn’t. 

Daniel Ricciardo qualified P14 in the Sprint Qualifying and finished P11 in the Sprint race, beating his teammate. The story was similar when it came to qualifying for the main race, with Ricciardo in P1 and Tsunoda in P19. The race started and Ricciardo kept his pace and slowly crept up to P9 before Valtteri Bottas brought out the safety car. It was the safety car restart, where it all went wrong, as Max Verstappen accelerated out of the penultimate corner of the track, catching many off guard. 

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Alonso locked up massively going into the corner, causing a chain reaction behind him, until Lance Stroll braked too late, and bumped Ricciardo, whose rear went airborne. Ricciardo sustained massive floor damage from the incident and dropped like a fly at the safety car restart. Even VCARB decided to retire the car as there was no point in racing anymore. Ricciardo had already dropped to the last place. But where does Verstappen come into the picture?

After the race, in the cooldown room, as the Max Verstappen podcast took place, the screen showed a replay of the Stroll-Ricciardo incident. Verstappen was in shock at how the car went airborne, but Norris saw an opportunity to put the blame on Verstappen. Looking at the crash, Verstappen said, “Oh my God” as he sat in shock. Checo questioned if it was under the safety car. Verstappen, who was still stunned, replied, “No way”. Norris took the chance to put in on the Dutchman and his sudden getaway and said, “That was all because of you”as he pointed towards Max to which the latter replied, “Yeah yeah, my fault.”

While Verstappen admitting his fault was sarcastic, his restart did catch a few off guard, as one usually expects the driver to creep until the very last corner. Regardless, Ricciardo, who wants to move back to Red Bul,l needs to show it in his performance that he’s worth it. But by the looks of it, that opportunity was taken away from him. And Helmut Marko still doesn’t think that Ricciardo or Tsunoda yet have what it takes to be promoted to the senior team. 

Helmut Marko: “Daniel Ricciardo has to be faster than Yuki Tsunoda”

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Daniel Ricciardo was brought in by Red Bull and put in the AlohaTauri seat of Nyck De Vries to see if Ricciardo still had it in himself to get the Red Bull seat. At that point, Sergio Perez was performing poorly, and Red Bull was rumored to be looking for a replacement. What better than to see if your reserve driver has still got it and can replace Checo? However, it hasn’t gone the way Ricciardo wanted, first with the injury, and then being beaten by Yuki Tsunoda.

According to kleinezeitung.at, Helmut Marko was asked about the expectations from Daniel Ricciardo and if he will be considered for the second Red Bull seat. “The claim to him was that he clearly has to be faster than Yuki if he wants to hope for the seat at Red Bull. This has not been the case so far, even if, as I said, it was scarce. You will see how this develops,” Marko reportedly replied.

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via Reuters

Looks like Daniel Ricciardo will have to buckle his shoes. Do you think he can show it in his next performances? Let us know in the comments below!

Written by

Pranay Bhagi

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Pranay is an F1 Content Analyst and writer at EssentiallySports who effortlessly blends his technical knowledge and passion for F1 in his writing. He has a knack for unique content research and specializes in trend-setting articles. Pranay’s coverage of the departure of Guenther Steiner from Haas received appreciation from readers.
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Edited by

Ariva Debnath