Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull ‘fairytale’ ending may have to wait

Last season Daniel Ricciardo made it clear that a return to Red Bull would be his “fairytale” ending.

Now that dream may have to wait.

Red Bull announced a new two-year deal with Sergio Pérez on Tuesday, locking up the Mexican Formula 1 driver through the 2026 campaign. With Max Verstappen firmly entrenched in the other Red Bull seat until at least 2028, the team has its driver lineup sorted for the next few seasons.

This means Ricciardo’s “fairytale” ending is deferred once more.

Last season it looked as if Ricciardo was on a path to that dynamic redemption story, when a mid-season return to the grid sparked speculation that the Australian driver would be in line for a return to the seat he once held. Red Bull’s sister team, AlphaTauri (now Visa Cash App RB F1 Team) decided to sack Nyck de Vries midway through the 2023 campaign, sliding Ricciardo into that spot from his reserve duties at Red Bull.

A hand injury sidelined Ricciardo shortly after his return. But he made it back from the injury to deliver several strong performances for the team as they tried to catch Williams for seventh place in the Constructors’ Championship, including a seventh-place drive in the Mexico City Grand Prix.

While AlphaTauri fell short of catching Williams, Ricciardo’s form late last season — and Pérez’s own mid-year struggles — opened the door to speculation that Ricciardo was one of a few drivers, along with Liam Lawson and Yuki Tsunoda, with a shot at a Red Bull seat.

Speaking with ESPN last season, Ricciardo called returning to the grid with Red Bull the “fairytale” ending. “This for me would be like the fairytale. Honestly, the fairytale ending [would be] to finish my career here if I could have it all my own way.” Ricciardo told ESPN about returning to Red Bull permanently. “But we’ll see. I’ll probably have to work my way up a little bit but it’s really nice to be back here.”

But Red Bull ended all that speculation on Tuesday, announcing the new deal with Pérez. In unveiling the news, Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner made it known that “continuity and stability” were critical to the team’s prospects, as they look to fend off challenges from Ferrari and McLaren — along with the rest of the grid — this season and beyond.

“Now is an important time to confirm our line-up for 2025 and we are very pleased to continue working together with Checo,” said Horner. “Continuity and stability are important for the Team and both Checo and Max are a successful and robust partnership, securing our first ever one-two finish for the Team in the Championship last year.

“Checo has had a strong start to 2024 with second places in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Japan and then his podium in China. The past few races have been tough, there is convergence on the grid, but we are confident in Checo and look forward to his return to proven form and performance, that we so often see,” added the Red Bull boss. “Last year was a unicorn season and we will need to work hard to retain our titles, but we are assured in our line up and with the Team as a whole, which is imperative in what is shaping up to be a close fought Championship this year.”

Ricciardo’s form this season may have made his path to a Red Bull return a little steeper. Tsunoda has enjoyed a clear run of form when compared to Ricciardo this year, as the Japanese driver enters the Canadian Grand Prix with 19 points on the season, while Ricciardo has five in his account. Tsunoda has also been stronger in qualifying, starting ahead of Ricciardo in all but one grand prix this season.

All told, the pieces added up to a slot at Red Bull for Pérez going forward, with Ricciardo now left to focus on fighting for his current spot at VCARB. By all indications the team is looking to run it back with Ricciardo and Tsunoda next season, meaning that the Australian driver will have yet more chances to make his case for a “fairytale” ending.

That ending might just have to wait a few more seasons.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top