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Daniel Ricciardo

Hulkenberg at a loss to explain Ricciardo F1 pace ‘drop off’

Daniel Ricciardo's Formula 1 future is in the air amid a difficult start to the 2023 season at the RB team.

Ricciardo Bahrain FP3
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Nico Hulkenberg has admitted confusion over Daniel Ricciardo’s slump in form at the start of the 2024 Formula 1 campaign.

Ricciardo was retained by RB for the season after slotting into the seat midway through last year.

The Australian scored an impressive seventh place at the Mexico City Grand Prix, aiding the squad’s late-season rise up the pecking order.

However, Ricciardo’s lacklustre start to the 2024 campaign has led to questions being raised over his F1 future.

The 34-year-old has been out-paced by team-mate Yuki Tsunoda at the opening three rounds, with the Japanese driver scoring RB’s first points of the year last time out in Melbourne.

Hulkenberg and Ricciardo were paired together at Renault during the 2019 season, with the latter often the faster of the two.

“No, it doesn't really make sense and I don't understand it,” Hulkenberg told media including RacingNews365 regarding Ricciardo’s struggles.

“Because in 2019, he was very competitive and on the pace.

“Since then [he’s struggled], the McLaren times, which obviously was still the same generation cars [compared to] the new generation cars.”

'Tricky to judge situation'

Liam Lawson has been tipped for a future driver at RB after impressing during his short stint with the team in 2023.

The New Zealander was called up to replace Ricciardo at five events when the eight-time Grand Prix injured his wrist at the Dutch Grand Prix.

Lawson recently put pressure on Red Bull to issue him a full-time drive in F1.

Amid Ricciardo’s struggles, Hulkenberg asserted it is a difficult situation to judge due to not having inside data.

“It's tricky, especially from the outside, if you don't have all the info and all the data, it's tricky to judge,” he said.

“But yeah, I don't know why. I think he’s still good, but back then he was stronger maybe.”

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