‘Not happy’: ‘Hidden’ truth Daniel Ricciardo clinging to as F1 future decided ‘in days’

Daniel Ricciardo would have hoped that this season would have turned out completely differently.

Before the season, the 34-year-old had big plans as he believed his Visa Cash App RB team was ready to fight for the midfield.

While the RBs currently sit sixth in the Constructors’ Championship – one point behind the team’s overall record for the 2023 season, in which they finished eighth – this is not for the reason the F1 world had suspected.

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Ricciardo was brought in mid-last season and was considered the likely successor to Sergio Perez and the successor to world champion Max Verstappen at Red Bull.

But after eight races, the pressure is on Ricciardo as he fights for his future not only at RB, but also in Formula 1.

The young Japanese driver is expected to have made short work of teammate Yuki Tsunoda. After eight races, he leads 7-1 in qualifying, has a 6-1 record in races (both drivers retired in China) and leads the Drivers’ Championship 19-5.

Furthermore, Ricciardo is not seen as a “real alternative” to Perez, as the Mexican is apparently close to re-signing with Red Bull.

Motorsport-Total.com reports that the deal could be signed “within the next few days”.

And with the top team almost decided, attention now turns to the junior team, with 22-year-old New Zealander Liam Lawson in the starting blocks.

As the pressure increases, it is expected that Ricciardo can turn the tide in the fight for a 2025 contract in the six races before the summer break.

While it remains to be seen whether this is a vote of confidence or a death blow, RB team boss Laurent Mekies said that despite Ricciardo’s lack of results, the experienced driver has much more to offer.

“It is a great fortune for this team to have Yuki and Daniel as a pair,” Mekies told PlanetF1.com.

“Daniel in particular is a great help in terms of the projects, where the team needs to go and in identifying the gaps, having someone like Daniel who has won eight races, has been with a few teams and knows where the board can stand and where it needs to go.

“So his contribution to the team was enormous. Even if the performance in the first few races was in the uncomfortable range, you still brought enormous added value to the team.

“We have seen very great progress, some of which has remained hidden from you.

“But actually the race in Australia was better than in Saudi Arabia. Japan was better than Australia. You can see that China was better than Japan and Miami was better than China.”

“So we believe we are on track. And to answer your question, he was extremely unemotional about it. He was completely rational and looked at it with us and said, ‘This is what I can do with the car, this is what I can’t do. That’s why I can’t do that in the corner. This is what I have to do in the corner.’

“We’ve learned as much from it as he has. We’ll be putting a lot of things into the car in the short term and long term to try and learn from what he wants. That will ultimately allow him to do his best.”

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

After stunning the F1 world with a stunning fourth place in the sprint race in Miami, these were the only points he could score in 2024.

“Maybe because of the gap (to Tsunoda) we can find something that explains why I lost something here and there,” said Ricciardo.

“There will probably always be something – that’s F1 and it’s never perfect.

“I’m not happy with these gaps. I think it frustrates me a bit. Of course the team has been great and really supported me and of course they know I can do it.

“But this year it’s been a little bit harder to keep it up week by week, and that’s what I’m really focusing on now, rather than relying too much on it or getting too excited about what the future holds.

“I want to improve, whether it’s about the car or about myself.”

But even without reducing Tsunoda’s season lead, it is not clear that Ricciardo will have to give up the sport.

Recently, Tsunoda announced that he would consider offers from rival F1 teams if he was not promoted to partner Verstappen.

Moves to Aston Martin and Haas have already been linked.

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

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

“So I mean other options… and probably the top teams are pretty much taken now, so… I mean, we’re probably the strongest team at least in the middle of the field. We’ll see.

“I think, especially when I’m at Red Bull, of course I always want to target Red Bull.

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

“But I am also very loyal to Red Bull, because without them I wouldn’t be here. And of course Honda too.”

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

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

Honda will sign a contract with Aston Martin from 2026 and has previously stated that the company would like to continue working with Tsunoda, a graduate of the Honda Racing School.

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