Daniel Ricciardo act stuns F1 world amid 'awful' drama for Sergio Perez in Mexico

The Aussie driver has heaped even more pressure on his Red Bull rival ahead of the 2024 season.

Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez in the Mexico Grand Prix.
Daniel Ricciardo was seventh in the Mexico Grand Prix after Sergio Perez crashed out. Image: Getty

Daniel Ricciardo has piled more pressure on Sergio Perez amid speculation about who will be driving alongside Max Verstappen at Red Bull in 2024. Speculation is mounting that Ricciardo could unseat Perez at Red Bull next season, and the Mexican driver suffered the worst-possible result at his home Grand Prix on Sunday.

Perez had a shot at taking the lead on the opening lap of the race heading into turn one in front of his home fans. But he instead found himself flying through the air after a collision with the Ferrari of pole-sitter Charles Leclerc.

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Starting from fifth on the grid, Perez would have been intent on winning his home Grand Prix for the first time. But things went horribly wrong when LeClerc's front tyre collided with Perez's rear, sending him into the air and landing hard on the car's nose.

Perez attempted to continue the race, but Red Bull decided there was too much damage and he headed back to the pits. It came as a crushing blow for the Mexican driver, who is under immense pressure to keep his seat from Ricciardo.

The Aussie driver was elevated to race for AlphaTauri - Red Bull's junior team - earlier this year after starting the season as a reserve driver. But there is mounting speculation that Red Bull are eyeing Ricciardo was Verstappen's teammate for 2024.

Daniel Ricciardo, pictured here in the Mexico Grand Prix.
Daniel Ricciardo finished seventh in the Mexico Grand Prix. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Ricciardo has been in sensational form since joining AlphaTauri and outqualified Perez and teammate Yuki Tsunoda at the Mexican GP. After qualifying fourth-fastest, Ricciardo went on to finish seventh in the main race to earn his first points since returning to a full-time drive. With Ricciardo continuing to shine and Perez struggling, many suggested on Sunday that the Aussie driver will be Red Bull's No.2 next year.

Daniel Ricciardo to replace Sergio Perez at Red Bull?

Red Bull boss Christian Horner addressed Ricciardo's future earlier this year, saying: "Daniel firmly wants to be pitching for that Red Bull (seat). That's his golden objective, and by going to Alpha Tauri he sees that as his best route of stating his case.

"At the moment, there's only something in place until the end of the season. We've loaned him to Alpha Tauri to the end of the year. Our drivers are going to be Max and Checo (Perez) again next year, but it's always good to have talent in reserve."

Speaking in March, F1 commentator David Croft said he wouldn't be surprised to see Ricciardo back as Red Bull's No.2 driver next season. “Never say never in F1,” he said. “More surprising things have happened and it would not surprise me to see him and Max line up together in 2024. Personally I think it’s such a shame if he is not on the grid. If he comes back a better driver for it then we will all agree on the year off.”

Max Verstappen makes more F1 history

Meanwhile, Max Verstappen cruised to his 16th win of the season, breaking the record he set in 2022 for the most Grand Prix wins in a single year. The victory also ensures that Verstappen will end the 2023 season with the best single-season winning percentage of any driver in Formula One history.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton finished second after he managed to get past Leclerc, who had to settle for third aheaed of Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz in fourth. Lando Norris of McLaren produced an incredible drive to finish fifth after starting in 19th, with Aussie teammate Oscar Piastri eighth.

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