‘Need smaller, lighter drivers’: Daniel Ricciardo ‘weight joke’ slammed by F1 fans

Daniel Ricciardo’s F1 boss has dismissed an insensitive question from commentator David Croft about the Australian’s weight, which drew criticism from fans.

The F1 season is not even halfway through, but with Max Verstappen on the verge of winning his fourth consecutive world championship, attention now turns to the driver market and the new regulations for 2026, which were officially announced this week.

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Ricciardo is one of several drivers under pressure to keep their place, especially after Sergio Perez signed a two-year contract extension with Red Bull, effectively closing the door on the Australian’s hopes of a fairytale finish to his career.

The 35-year-old is taking his VISA Cash App RB one race at a time, but it is looking increasingly likely that this could be the end of his F1 career.

With Red Bull reserve driver Liam Lawson lined up, it would be surprising if Red Bull’s junior team kept a veteran in a team that is supposed to develop young drivers.

This week, the FIA ​​announced that F1 cars will be 30 kg lighter, 10 cm narrower and 20 cm shorter in the new era of regulations starting from the 2026 season.

The weight reduction of the cars is significant, but Lewis Hamilton said: “It’s still heavy.”

The other important changes are the move towards a 50:50 split of drive power between electric and combustion engines, the use of sustainable fuels and the elimination of the Drag Reduction System (DRS).

The devil is in the details, but the rules for 2026 are expected to be ratified by the FIA ​​World Motor Sport Council on June 28 following talks with the F1 teams.

Discussions about the driver market and news about the 2026 regulations led to an awkward moment during Friday’s practice for the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.

Speaking to VISA Cash App RB team principal Laurent Mekies while Lawson sat next to him on the pit wall, Croft asked: “As the cars get heavier, you need smaller, lighter drivers like Yuki Tsunoda and the guy sitting next to you.”

The cars are indeed getting lighter, but Croft was referring to discussions that suggest drivers will have to lose weight to reach the required 30 kg.

Mekies didn’t want to hear any of that and cleverly followed up the question with a technical explanation of how F1 cars can easily cope with drivers of different weights.

“No, actually in F1 we ​​have this wonderful thing called driver weight ballast,” he said.

“This means that light or heavy drivers effectively drive without penalty because a minimum ballast for the driver’s weight must be present in the car.

“For light riders, you put a little more ballast in the seat. For heavy riders, a little less. We’re OK.”

It was a clumsy attempt to make a joke or get Mekies to reveal his plans for the 2025 driver line-up, and Ricciardo’s numerous fans expressed their displeasure at the question on social media.

One fan wrote on X: “This isn’t Crofty making a joke about Lawson getting the seat ahead of Ricciardo because he’s skinny and Mekies completely fucking shuts him down.

“Never forget that the very first thing Christian Horner noticed when Daniel Ricciardo walked into Red Bull headquarters last year was how thin he had become. And yet Crofty makes jokes about his weight at his expense.”

A second commented: “The more I process this, the more annoyed I am that Sky tried to get Mekies to reveal anything about their 25s squad by talking about rider weight. “Especially after Daniel spoke openly about his issues with it at the end of the 2022 season. What is wrong with YOU?!!?

“What an absolutely insane statement to make about ANY person in general, but especially someone whose weight other people talked about completely unintentionally for the entire first half of last year.”

Another said: “Did Sky Sports really suggest today that VCARB need lighter drivers in view of Daniel?”

Previously, 1997 F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve attacked Ricciardo’s career with a flamethrower, arguing that the only reason he was still in the sport was his “image”.

“Why is he still in F1? Why?” Villeneuve told Sky Sports on Friday.

“We’ve been hearing the same thing for four or five years. ‘We need to improve the car for him.’ Sorry, it’s been like that for five years now. No, you’re in F1.”

“Maybe you make that effort for Lewis Hamilton, who has won multiple championships. You don’t make that effort for a driver who doesn’t make it.”

“If you don’t make it, go home, there’s someone else to take your place. That’s how it’s always been in racing, it’s the pinnacle of the sport.”

“There’s no reason to keep going and keep making excuses. And you all talk about that first season or the first two seasons. He beat a Vettel who was burnt out, who tried to invent things with the car to win and who just messed up his weekends.

“Then he beat Verstappen for half a season when Verstappen was 18 and just starting out, that was it. After that he stopped beating anyone.

“I think his image kept him in F1 more than his actual results.”

However, Ricciardo did not let the critics down in Canada by qualifying fifth for the race, which will be held in the early hours of the morning Australian time.

There were no changes to the Formula 1 starting grid last season, but this year’s “Silly Season” is likely to see significant driver changes.

Highly acclaimed young talents and up-and-coming talents such as Red Bull replacement Liam Lawson, Ferrari’s Ollie Bearman and Mercedes junior Andrea Kimi Antonelli could all be on the grid soon.

Ricciardo, Logan Sargeant, Valtteri Bottas, Guanyu Zhou, Kevin Magnussen and Pierre Gasly are under pressure to keep their places.

The 22-year-old Australian Jack Doohan drove Esteban Ocon’s car in the first practice session in Canada and is the favourite to succeed the Frenchman, who is leaving Alpine at the end of the season.

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