Daniel Ricciardo F1 calls gain steam after Sergio Perez debacle

After failing in qualifying once again, Sergio Perez has come under increasing pressure with Daniel Ricciardo waiting in the wings.

Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez.
Daniel Ricciardo's hopes of an F1 return have gained momentum thanks to Sergio Perez's ongoing struggles in qualifying. Pictures: Getty Images

Calls for Daniel Ricciardo to make an F1 return for Red Bull have gained further momentum, much to the chagrin of team boss Christian Horner, after Sergio Perez failed to make it out of Q3 in qualifying for the British GP. Perez, who won two of the first four races of the season, has failed to progress beyond the first round of qualifying for the last five grands prix.

The Mexican driver was burned badly by Red Bull's decision to send him out first on a drying Silverstone circuit following a brief red flag after Kevin Magnussen's Haas lost power earlier in the session. As the track conditions improved thanks to all 20 drivers being out on the circuit, those following Perez were able to find significantly more grip and therefore faster pace, leaving the 33-year-old stranded in 16th on the grid.

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Ricciardo has been waiting in the wings, having rejoined the team in a testing and promotional capacity after leaving McLaren at the end of the 2022 season, where he was replaced by fellow Aussie driver Oscar Piastri. It was a banner day for McLaren, with Lando Norris and Piastri qualifying 2nd and 3rd respectively behind pole-sitter Max Verstappen.

Despite the run of poor qualifying results for Perez over the last five races, Red Bull's motorsport advisor Helmut Marko made it unequivocally clear that the team was not looking for a replacement. Ricciardo's best chance of a return within the Red Bull stable remains with sister team Alpha Tauri.

“Perez has some weaknesses, this can’t be denied if one car takes pole and the other can’t even exit Q1,” Marko said. “But there is nobody who would be a viable replacement for him right now.”

Ricciardo got a long-awaited crack at this year's Red Bull machinery earlier in the week, when he took part in a tyre test which doubled as an opportunity to test his overall pace following his disappoint exit from McLaren, driven largely due to his inability to compete with Norris last season. Ricciardo opted to sit out for the 2023 season, banking on being able to make an F1 comeback in 2024.

Oscar Piastri secures career high qualifying position at British GP

In his stead at McLaren, Piastri has enjoyed a strong rookie campaign that was capped by qualifying third behind Norris and Verstappen at Silverstone. McLaren has largely struggled for pace this year, but upgrades delivered for the British GP appear to have had the desired effect.

While the upgrades are yet to be tested in race conditions, both Norris and Piastri were optimistic that McLaren had turned a corner. Norris looked like he was about to seize pole when he set a time of one minute 26.961 seconds right at the end on a drying track, only for Verstappen to go quicker with his final effort of 1:26.720.

Lando Norris, Max Verstappen and Oscar Piastri.
Lando Norris qualified P2 for the British Grand Prix, behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen and ahead of teammate Oscar Piastri. (Photo by Ben Stansall / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

Verstappen is chasing his sixth win in a row and eighth of the season with a third title already looking an absolute formality. Five poles in a row was already a career first for the 25-year-old.

"It's great to see both of them up here," he said of the McLaren drivers, whose team boss Zak Brown was busy high-fiving everyone in sight. Brown hoped McLaren could "get a sniff of the podium".

"I don't think we can win it on pure pace, so we will have our hands full tomorrow," added the American.

Last year's winner Carlos Sainz qualified fifth for Ferrari, with the Mercedes pair of George Russell and seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton, winner a record eight times at Silverstone, sixth and seventh respectively.

With AAP

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