Daniel Ricciardo to replace Sergio Perez

Red Bull is set to evaluate Daniel Ricciardo's performance as speculation swirls around Sergio Perez’s place at the team.

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has revealed that the team will have an opportunity to assess Daniel Ricciardo’s driving abilities when he takes part in a tyre test at Silverstone. 

The Australian driver will return to a Red Bull car for the first time since 2018, using the test session to evaluate new Pirelli tyres.

The tyre test not only puts the focus on the performance of the rubber but also presents Red Bull with a chance to closely observe Ricciardo, who recently departed from McLaren after a couple of lacklustre years. 

Speculation regarding Ricciardo’s return to Red Bull naturally arose, sparking rumours of a potential replacement for Sergio Perez. 

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However, Marko has emphasized that Perez’s seat is secured until at least the end of 2024.

“First of all, Checo is still second in the championship,” Marko clarified in an interview with the Inside Line F1 podcast. 

“So the first goal is to defend his position, and I’m sure if he focuses on just achieving that, he will be a good driver for Red Bull Racing.”

Regarding Ricciardo’s test, Marko added: “He will have a test in Silverstone, and from there, we see where he’s standing, but [there are no immediate plans]. 

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“We have a contract with Checo that goes until the end of ’24, and of course, we have to think about what will happen after that. 

“But if Ricciardo recovers and returns to his old form, which we knew he was a very competitive driver.”

Marko acknowledged that he is unsure about the reasons behind Ricciardo’s decline in performance during his stints with Renault and McLaren. 

Evaluating Ricciardo’s capabilities will be crucial for Red Bull’s future considerations.

Marko revealed that this is not the first time Perez and Ricciardo have been compared, as they both participated in a selection day to determine who would secure a Red Bull contract. 

Reflecting on the process, Marko said: “With Sergio Perez, we had a selection day. I think it was together with Ricciardo, so we had a close look at him. 

“Interestingly, on the qualifying lap, he was down, but in race performance, he was good. 

“However, he already had a lot of backing from his Mexican supporters, and they decided to go their own way. It was an amicable decision.”

Marko also touched upon the decision-making process that led to Perez’s signing and the unfortunate circumstances surrounding Alex Albon. 

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“Later, the decision was between Albon and Perez. I have to say Alex was really unlucky. In Brazil, he was fighting for second position when Hamilton turned him around. 

“The next incident in Austria was even more severe when Alex was contending for the race. That hurt his confidence massively. 

“We needed someone we knew could fight for the championship; we needed to solve a crisis.”