Marko not ruling out dropping Ricciardo within 2024

"We have a strong driver in Liam Lawson"


18 April 2024 - 10:16
Marko not ruling out dropping Ricciardo

Carlos Sainz seems more likely to end up in a Audi-owned Sauber next rather than a Red Bull.

That’s the news directly from the mouth of Red Bull’s top Austrian F1 consultant Dr Helmut Marko, despite admitting the energy drink-owned camp is "talking to him".

"He is having his strongest season in Formula 1," said Marko, who brought Sainz into F1 via the Red Bull junior program, with the now 29-year-old Spaniard subsequently heading to Ferrari via Renault and McLaren.

Sainz, though, has been dropped by Ferrari for 2025, and he is now being linked with Audi, Mercedes, and even Red Bull as a potential replacement for Sergio Perez.

"It is clear that Checo (Perez) is currently having his best season since he joined us," Marko, 80, said. "If he can maintain these performances, like qualifying in Japan, then he is certainly our best option for 2025.

"He is a hard worker and has now also realised that the radically individual path he chose last year in terms of setup was wrong. Now the car is closer to Max’s setup and that has helped him."

Therefore, Marko sees no room at Red Bull Racing for Sainz.

"We’re talking to him," Marko said, "but he has a very lucrative offer from Audi that we can’t match or beat.

"We know him from the Toro Rosso days, but it hurt him a lot when we put our faith in Verstappen rather than him."

As for Daniel Ricciardo, Marko admits the 34-year-old former Red Bull race winner was once a contender to replace Perez for 2025 - but he says Yuki Tsunoda currently has his RB teammate "under control" so far this year.

"The requirement for Daniel was that he had to be clearly faster than Yuki if he wanted to have any hope of securing a seat at Red Bull," Marko said. "That hasn’t been the case so far, even though it was close in Japan.

"We’ll see how that develops."

If it continues to develop in the wrong direction for Ricciardo, Marko is not even ruling out dropping the Australian in the middle of this season.

"We have a strong driver in Liam Lawson as reserve driver," Marko said, "and he is contractually entitled to drive for another team if he doesn’t get a cockpit with us in 2025.

"In this respect, it would of course be exciting for us if we could see him in Formula 1 this year so that we can get an even clearer picture. But that’s a complex topic, so we’ll have to wait and see how it develops."

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