Ricciardo denies Perez replacement rumours
By Mat Coch
Friday 3rd November, 2023 - 5:03am
Daniel Ricciardo has stated contract discussions remain focused on Scuderia AlphaTauri and not as a replacement for Sergio Perez at Red Bull.
Speculation has increased that Ricciardo is in the frame to replace Perez as the Mexican driver continues to struggle.
The Scuderia AlphaTauri driver finished an impressive seventh in Mexico City last weekend, a performance that lifted the team from 10th in the constructors’ championship to eighth.
Perez meanwhile was an opening corner retirement as he battled with Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc for the race lead.
With Lewis Hamilton finishing the race second to Verstappen, Perez is now just 20 points clear of the Mercedes driver in their battle for second in the drivers’ championship.
That’s despite driving the most dominant car in the sport’s history.
Though Perez holds a contract for 2024, speculation has been rife that he’ll be ousted from the drive with Ricciardo the favourite to replace him.
“All the stuff around my contract next year has been related to AlphaTauri,” the Australian said.
“That’s honestly as far as that goes.
“For me, personally, having a weakened like Mexico is just definitely good for the soul.
“Also for the team, you know. I haven’t been here long but for them to be 10th in the constructors and to jump two places in the space of two weekends was huge.
“That creates a very happy atmosphere around everyone. Kind of happy doing that and try to just keep charging on where I am.”
Red Bull has placed an emphasis on Perez finishing second in the championship, an objective team boss Christian Horner believes his driver can achieve, as it’s something the team has never before managed.
In 2010 Sebastian Vettel won the title with Mark Webber third, repeating that feat in both 2011 and 2013. Perez narrowly missed second last year to Charles Leclerc.
The current campaign is therefore another rare opportunity for the team to secure first and second in the drivers’ fight, and arguably its best given the success of the RB19.