Christian Horner has questioned whether or not Daniel Ricciardo still has the same passion for F1 amid mounting pressure on his place in the sport.
The Red Bull Team Principal believes that Ricciardo is capable of better results and has been surprised by the difference between the Australian and teammate Lando Norris.
Ricciardo has endured a tough 2022 season; he currently trails his teammate by 50 points to 15, with the Briton taking the team's only podium of the year.
The difference in results has triggered speculation about Ricciardo's future at McLaren and in F1.
Speaking to The Cambridge Union, Horner expressed his disbelief at Ricciardo's struggles.
"Daniel's a great driver. He's a very fast driver, and I'm surprised that he hasn't really done more in the McLaren," said Horner.
"Lando is doing a super job. He's [part of] the next generation that's coming through. I think it just shows [what happens] in sport when your head drops."
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Horner: Ricciardo has lost his confidence
Having made a move away from the race-winning Red Bull team, Ricciardo has struggled to find a car with consistent front-running pace.
He achieved two podium finishes with Renault in 2020 before taking a surprise race victory for McLaren at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, but both teams have generally created midfield cars.
A general performance deficit to Norris in 2022 has sparked speculation that McLaren might look to replace Ricciardo, despite the 32-year-old having a contract to the end of 2023.
McLaren's IndyCar driver Pato O'Ward is considered a potential future F1 driver, and the F1 team also have reigning F2 Champion Oscar Piastri as a reserve driver.
Horner continued to say that a lack of confidence or a desire for the sport may be the reasons for his struggles in 2022.
"He [Ricciardo] was one of the most talented drivers we've had in our car, but confidence is such a key factor, and you can see he's just lost his confidence," said Horner.
"It looks like he's almost lost his love for the sport a bit, and I think he just needs to re-find that.
"He needs to discover that again because he's a better driver than he's showing is at the moment."
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