Daniel Ricciardo facing increased pressure to keep his seat, per report

Promoters of the Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix were likely elated when Daniel Ricciardo returned to the grid in the middle of the 2023 season. After missing the 2023 Miami race, that put one of the sport’s most popular drivers on track to return to Miami for the 2024 event.

That return now seems in doubt.

According to one report Dr. Helmut Marko, a Red Bull senior advisor and Head of Driver Development, has given Ricciardo an ultimatum: Improve, or else. Alex Powell in the NZ Herald writes that according to his reporting, either Ricciardo improves in the upcoming two races — the Japanese Grand Prix and the Chinese Grand Prix — or a change would be coming to Visa Cash App RB F1 Team.

And, in a move similar to the one that took place when Ricciardo was injured shortly after his own return to the grid last season, Liam Lawson would slide into that spot.

Riccardo has been out-qualified by teammate Yuki Tsunoda in each of the three races this weekend, and it was Tsunoda who opened VCARB’s account this past weekend at the Australian Grand Prix, crossing the line in eighth place. After a post-race penalty was handed down to Fernando Alonso, Tsunoda was promoted to seventh place, notching six huge points for the team.

Ricciardo has yet to finish in the points this season, and has yet to see Q3 in qualifying. Ricciardo failed to advance to Q2 on Saturday in Melbourne, marking the first time in his F1 career that the Australian driver failed to see Q2 in his home race.

After Ricciardo’s injury a season ago Lawson slid into his seat and performed admirably, securing a ninth-place finish in the Singapore Grand Prix. He is currently a reserve driver for Red Bull, and according. to Powell’s reporting not only is Lawson being viewed to replace Ricciardo mid-season, he is also seen as the team’s best option to replace Sergio Pérez at Red Bull alongside Max Verstappen.

Pérez is set to see his contract run out at the end of the 2024 season.

Following the Australian Grand Prix Marko, never shy about speaking his mind, offered praise for Tsunoda while noting that Ricciardo was “struggling.” Speaking with Sky Sports Germany, Marko declared that Tsunoda enjoyed a “perfect” weekend in Melbourne. “Yuki ran perfectly from the first lap on Friday and set very consistent and good times in today’s race. When [Haas driver Nico] Hülkenberg attacked, he immediately countered,” said Marko. “I think we have confirmed that Yuuki is an absolutely mature driver.”

He then turned his thoughts to Ricciardo.

“He’s struggling, we’ll have to see. There were some good signs in the Bahrain test, but the last few races haven’t been going too well,” added Marko. “I think Ricciardo needs a safe and confident car. I hope the team can give him that so he can at least be on par with Yuki.”

The reporting around Marko and Ricciardo sound eerily similar to stories about the Red Bull senior figure and Nyck de Vries a season ago. Around this time in 2023 Marko issued de Vries the “yellow card,” noting that he had to improve his form or else.

When the improvement did not follow, the team turned to Ricciardo.

Whether he suffers the same fate is now apparently in his hands over the next two races.

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