Daniel Ricciardo told smiling ‘too much’ makes him worse than Sergio Perez

Red Bull have been warned they would be making a mistake sacking Sergio Perez for Daniel Ricciardo.

1979 Formula 1 World Champion Jody Scheckter has slammed the currently injured Daniel Ricciardo for smiling “too much”, with the South African believing that the Aussie was “better when he started”.

After being behind-the-scenes at Red Bull for the opening 10 races of this season, Ricciardo was suddenly called-up to replace Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri, who failed to perform to AlphaTauri’s and Red Bull’s expectations.

Ricciardo’s return came following his axing from McLaren at the end of 2022, due to a season of disappointing results.

Since returning though, the 34-year-old has actually performed very well and made it clear that he’s wanting to return to Red Bull as a first-team driver.

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His aim is seemingly to replace Sergio Perez, something team principal Christian Horner is aware of.

However, following a crash during Free Practice 2 at the Dutch Grand Prix, Ricciardo is back on the bench, recovering from an operation on his left hand.

The expectation is that he’ll return at the Qatar Grand Prix, something which many believe might’ve ended his hopes of a 2024 Red Bull comeback.

Scheckter is one of the individuals who thinks a return to Red Bull would be the wrong decision, with the 73-year-old believing that sacking Perez would be a mistake.

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“He smiles too much, that’s the problem,” Scheckter told Stats Perform.

“When somebody smiles so much… I don’t know if he’s going to be any better than Perez.

“I don’t rate him. I don’t rate him right at the top.”

Scheckter went onto admit that Ricciardo was a better driver when he was younger, with him being praised as “impressive” in his prime.

Now, though, the 1979 Champion doesn’t think the fan favourite has the ability to race for a leading team, but he recognises that Red Bull have a “lot more information”.

“I think he was better when he started,” Scheckter added.

“He was always a good over-taker. But I’m not sure if I would swap him out for Perez.

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“Of course, when you’ve been there a long time, it’s different. Has he got the enthusiasm to do it?

“I don’t think he’s as good as he was when he started. I think he was quite impressive at some stages. Now, I don’t think he’s impressive.

“But they know a lot more information than I do.”