No two-race ultimatum for Ricciardo – Marko

Wed, 27 March 2024, 09:00

Mar.27 (GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has denied rumours a two-race ultimatum has been imposed on Daniel Ricciardo to up his game or lose his RB seat to Liam Lawson by the Miami GP.

According to German specialist reports, Red Bull’s top consultant Marko dismissed the rumours that had appeared in the New Zealand press, triggered by Ricciardo’s struggle to keep up with Yuki Tsunoda so far in 2024.

Marko reportedly insisted that reporters may have become confused by Red Bull’s plans to temporarily sideline Ricciardo at Suzuka so that Japanese junior Ayumu Iwasa can drive in the Australian’s RB car in Friday practice for the Japanese GP.

However, Marko also said “we have to wait and see” what happens next with Ricciardo, as it is becoming clear that he is not a strong enough contender for an eventual promotion to the top Red Bull team.

“Every driver sees the other’s data,” Marko said, “so there are no secrets. They have the same car. Everything is the same.

“Daniel has proved in the past that he is a fast driver, so it is something mental. A mental problem.”

Ricciardo denies that. “My head is not full of nonsense or anything like that.”

Critically, Ricciardo still maintains the support of the RB team, formerly known as Alpha Tauri and Toro Rosso. Technical director Jody Egginton says the 34-year-old is “working hard” to “make the car more to his liking”, and should be up to speed “in the next few races”.

Some believe Ricciardo’s fading star is because he, like other Red Bull insiders, now understand that Sergio Perez has done enough to secure another deal for 2025 – including critical team support from his powerful Mexican sponsors.

Marko, however, insists: “The decision on the lineup for next year has been postponed until the summer. But Tsunoda must improve even more if he can be considered.”

As for the RB outfit, former F1 driver Christijan Albers is not sure why team owner Red Bull would not bite the bullet and simply promote the impressive reserve Liam Lawson right now.

“I don’t understand what the fear is about this choice. I just don’t understand it,” he told De Telegraaf.

“Let’s be honest – Lawson beat Tsunoda in those few races last year. And Tsunoda has consistently been stronger than Nyck de Vries and Daniel Ricciardo.”

Albers thinks Ricciardo has lost his mojo after approaching 250 grands prix on the grid, including failed post-Red Bull stints at Renault and McLaren.

“What irritates me a little bit is that he keeps laughing and doing activities other than driving,” said the Dutchman. “Just focus on the racing. Only then can you start being funny again.

“As a driver you want to go into hiding until you have beaten the others, then you can start showing yourself again. With him it’s the other way around. All those activities are just painful.

“I just don’t think it’s fair,” Albers insists. “Lawson just needs to be given a chance, and he doesn’t get one. But the whole purpose of that team is to train and promote young talent.”

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