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Daniel Ricciardo

What Ricciardo must do to secure Red Bull return

Daniel Ricciardo is, in theory, first in line to take over from Sergio Perez at Red Bull should the Mexican be expelled from his seat. So what must the Australian do to secure his fate?

Ricciardo Red Bull
Article
To news overview © XPBimages

Daniel Ricciardo enters the new F1 season knowing his fortunes have completely U-turned in the space of 12 months.

At this point last year, the Australian was reeling from having been dropped by McLaren, instead being forced to settle as third driver for Red Bull.

A step back onto the grid with AlphaTauri in place of Nyck de Vries was a springboard to return, though even that came with difficulties after fracturing a metacarpal in a Dutch Grand Prix practice crash, leading him to miss five rounds.

Yet Ricciardo could be Max Verstappen's next teammate at the all-dominant Red Bull squad if Sergio Perez's form fails to pick up - here's what the eight-time Grand Prix winner needs to do to cement his position as first-choice replacement.

Keep mistakes to a minimum

If Ricciardo is to have any chance of succeeding Perez alongside Verstappen, mistakes have to be kept to a minimum.

While incidents have never been something desired by teams in F1, the dawn of the budget cap - and the effect a crash can have on future car development - mean that any damage can lead to the end of a career in the sport.

Logan Sargeant came under pressure for Williams at the end of last season while Haas pulled the plug on Mick Schumacher's time with the team in 2022, such was the amount of damage costs amassed by the German.

Surpassing cost damage, any incident while under pressure battling for points will blot Ricciardo's copybook and, given his time at McLaren, he can't afford many setbacks, if any.

Helping develop the new car

AlphaTauri - in its new guise for the new campaign - is eager to strengthen its ties to the Red Bull operation in order to springboard up the midfield pecking order, led by new management in Peter Bayer and Laurent Mekies.

Ricciardo can take the front foot in helping develop the machinery and the team's skillset across the season, which will help on two fronts.

Firstly, the team will improve - something needed given its struggles last term. But for Ricciardo, it will be an indication that he is ready to help structure his side of the garage to try and cope with the onslaught subjected by Verstappen to his teammates in recent years.

After all, Ricciardo is the only driver to have at least given the Dutchman a run for his money since the now-three-time World Champion stepped up to Red Bull in 2016.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Beat teammate Tsunoda

Perhaps the most important step in his road back to Red Bull is to beat teammate Yuki Tsunoda.

The Japanese driver has shown steady progression since his rookie season, though is far from the finished article. A brutal opinion would be that Ricciardo should have no trouble in outperforming his less-experienced teammate.

But it would be foolish to disregard Tsunoda given the pace he has shown, albeit in glimpses, behind the wheel of F1 machinery.

Should Tsunoda finish ahead of Ricciardo in the Drivers' Championship when the chequered flag flies in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, then the Australian can wave goodbye to a return as Verstappen's teammate.

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