On a collision course with an old challenge

Why Ricciardo should be more accepting of being Verstappen’s second driver?

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Why Ricciardo should be more accepting of being Verstappen’s second driver?
20 August at 11:00

Before the summer break, F1 attention often revolved around the sacking of Alpha Tauri’s Nyck De Vries, and his replacement Daniel Ricciardo. The driver rejoined his former team although under new branding, as the Australian is back on the F1 grid after a short hiatus.

However, a big reason Ricciardo left the Red Bull family in the first place was that how the priority for the team was on Max Verstappen’s shoulders, and now five years later, not much has changed in accordance with that. Expect that now Verstappen is a two-time world champion and is unanimously the best driver of the grid, especially with the current form he’s on. 

Although it’s no guarantee that Ricciardo could end up on the Red Bull Racing team again, with Perez’s current form and if Ricciardo can perform well, it’s hard to see Helmut Marko and Christian Horner turning their noses up at the six-time race winner. But would he be ready to play second fiddle to the reigning world champion?

Besides the obvious of now that Verstappen has proven what Red Bull saw in him back in 2018 when they started to show favouritism towards the young Dutchman over Ricciardo. Since Ricciardo has left the team, Verstappen has gone on to win 38 more races and two world titles. Proving a lot of people wrong about the potential upside of the driver, as he’s lived up to exactly what was expected of him. But now it’s come true it’d be a lot easier for the Australian to accept that he might have to be the second driver in the team rather than playing into the potential and run around Horner had told him at times in 2018. 

Moreover, Ricciardo’s chance to get into one of the most dominant cars in recent history and the chance to extend his win tally, even more, would be an all-time high. There’s no denying that Ricciardo has always had talent, and even though he’s spent time away from Red Bull, it’s clear to most he is still a very quick driver, which is highlighted by bringing McLaren that iconic win at Monza in 2021. A chance to drive a car as dominant at the Red Bull would always provide an opportunity for more race wins, or even a world championship if stars align, and if anyone is going to prove the F1 community wrong, it would be Ricciardo.

By collecting more race wins and good results in general, even if he were to sit behind Verstappen a majority of the time, it would prove that he’s ready to have a more open mindset to his role within his team. Which could raise his stock amongst other teams, it was well documented at the time that a large reason for moving to Renault and then McLaren was because Ricciardo wanted to be a team leader, and once Esteban Ocon and Lando Norris started to meet their potential and whether he was the best driver on the team came into question, he was quick to try and move on or look elsewhere. If he spent some time showing he was willing to be the perfect teammate once again, especially to the driver that highlighted this want to be the #1 driver in the first place, it could open up his options across the grid.