Red Bull Boss Credits Daniel Ricciardo’s Lap 1 Misfortune for Max Verstappen’s Victory in Japan

Red Bull boss Credits Daniel Ricciardo's Lap 1 Misfortune For Max Verstappen's Victory in Japan
Credits: IMAGO / HochZwei

Daniel Ricciardo has received immense flak recently as his struggles continue with Visa Cash App RB (V-CARB). The Australian once again failed to score points during the Japanese Grand Prix following his lap one crash with Alex Albon that resulted in him suffering a DNF. However, while Ricciardo certainly did not do V-CARB any favors with his crash, he might have just helped the senior Red Bull team. The Austrian team’s advisor, Helmut Marko, has now explained how the 34-year-old unintentionally helped Max Verstappen cruise to victory at Suzuka.

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In his post-race analysis of the Japanese GP on Speedweek.com, Marko explained, “You can say that [Daniel] Ricciardo helped [Max] Verstappen because from the restart everything was fine for Max”. The Austrian then defended Ricciardo by explaining how his collision with Albon was nothing but a racing incident that can often take place on the opening lap.

The Japanese GP weekend was crucial for Red Bull as they were desperate to return to the top after a disappointing outing in Australia. During the Australian GP, Max Verstappen suffered a DNF, while Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull only managed to finish fifth after his car suffered floor damage.

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However, come the Japanese GP, normal service resumed. Verstappen registered an emphatic win, while Perez ensured that Red Bull secured their third 1-2 finish of the season.

While Red Bull would be delighted with Perez’s current form, the Mexican’s consistency this season will not do Daniel Ricciardo any favors. When the Honey Badger returned with V-CARB midway through last year, he made it clear that his goal was to return to the senior Red Bull team sometime in the future.

Can Daniel Ricciardo still secure a return to Red Bull?

With Max Verstappen having a long-term contract till 2028, it is only Sergio Perez’s seat at Red Bull that is under threat. Coming into the 2024 season, the #11 driver was under massive pressure as he underperformed relative to Verstappen by a huge margin last year.

Although Perez finished second in the championship last season, he only managed to score 285 points, a whopping 290 points lesser than the Dutchman. It was then that rumors emerged that Daniel Ricciardo could be the favorite to replace Perez this season if the driver from Guadalajara continues to underperform.

However, as it turns out, it is Ricciardo’s future in F1 that is under threat now. Several experts have lately questioned the Australian’s ability to deliver after the 34-year-old continues to underperform when compared to relatively inexperienced RB teammate Yuki Tsunoda.

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Tsunoda has been exceptional this season as he has already scored a couple of points for RB. On the other hand, Ricciardo still has not managed to score any points.

What is more concerning about Ricciardo’s current form is his qualifying pace. In all four races this season, Tsunoda has out-qualified Ricciardo. If the Honey Badger does not find a way to rediscover his form, then he may not only lose his opportunity to return to Red Bull but may also lose his seat in F1.

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