Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

Daniel Ricciardo scored his first points since his mid-season F1 comeback watch with an impressive showing throughout the Mexico City GP weekend; watch every session of the Sao Paulo GP live on Sky Sports F1, with lights out for Sunday’s race at 5pm

Last Updated: 30/10/23 4:02pm

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Christian Horner reflects on an eventful Mexico City GP, with Sergio Perez crashing out on the opening lap, Max Verstappen claiming a 16th win of the season and Daniel Ricciardo picking up P7

Christian Horner reflects on an eventful Mexico City GP, with Sergio Perez crashing out on the opening lap, Max Verstappen claiming a 16th win of the season and Daniel Ricciardo picking up P7

Christian Horner has described Daniel Ricciardo’s performance on his way to seventh at the Mexico City Grand Prix as “remarkable”, and insisted Red Bull intend to keep Sergio Perez for 2024.

Ricciardo outqualified Perez on Saturday in Mexico and was running in fifth when the race was stopped for Kevin Magnussen’s big crash at the halfway point of the Grand Prix.

The Australian was competing in only his fourth full weekend this year after replacing Nyck de Vries ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix in July, before injuring himself during practice in Zandvoort in August.

He returned in Austin where he had an underwhelming weekend, but he delivered in Mexico City, and Horner was impressed.

“It is great to see Daniel performing so well and fully endorses the reason why we brought him back into the AlphaTauri,” said Horner.

“I thought he was outstanding this weekend, fighting Mercedes in an AlphaTauri – and had it not been for the red flag, he’d have finished higher up, so it was a great performance and certainly looked like the Daniel of old this weekend.

“Look at the time delta to Max, it was less than a tenth so a remarkable performance by him. He’s back to his old self, you can see he is relaxed, he’s confident and he came into the weekend fully motivated after a tricky Austin coming back from injury. I thought he did a great job this weekend.”

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Lewis Hamilton passes Daniel Ricciardo down the main straight on the inside to move up to fourth in the Mexico City Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton passes Daniel Ricciardo down the main straight on the inside to move up to fourth in the Mexico City Grand Prix

Ricciardo, who has already been confirmed to stay at AlphaTauri for 2024, fought hard against Lewis Hamilton in the early stages of the race and was just half a second behind George Russell at the chequered flag in the battle for sixth.

Horner says Ricciardo’s confidence is “coming up” and his experience has made in impact at AlphaTauri.

“You couldn’t fail to be impressed by Daniel this weekend. His qualifying was outstanding and he showed his maturity and experience and pace in the race,” he told Sky Sports F1.

“I think fighting a Mercedes in an AlphaTauri for their best result of the year was a great performance. Had it not been for the red flag he might have actually finished even further up.

“He can take a lot of confidence coming back from injury, he’s had a rough time over the last couple of months having to sit on the sidelines but that’s the Daniel we’re used to seeing.”

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Daniel Ricciardo says it’s ‘pretty cool’ to qualify fourth for the Mexico City Grand Prix and admits having a lot of cars behind him on the grid is a nice feeling

Daniel Ricciardo says it’s ‘pretty cool’ to qualify fourth for the Mexico City Grand Prix and admits having a lot of cars behind him on the grid is a nice feeling

Ricciardo added: “A lot of emotions. Relieved as well. Two starts on this track… you hold your breath because it’s such a long run to Turn One. The first start we started fourth and came through in fourth, so I was pretty happy, especially when we know we have a bit more drag then others.

“The second one. When I saw the red flag I knew it would probably hurt our race. We were in fifth and potentially could have finished there. Then starting on the hard with other cars on the medium…just to lose one spot is close to a best case scenario.

“To fight a Mercedes at the end is a big weekend for us. I’m happy-sad. All in all, it’s a good weekend. After last weekend, this was the weekend I dreamed of and we got it.”

Horner: Intention to keep Perez for 2024

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Sergio Perez reflects on a heart-breaking day for him in Mexico as he suffered a first-lap DNF in his home race

Sergio Perez reflects on a heart-breaking day for him in Mexico as he suffered a first-lap DNF in his home race

Perez’s race lasted just 14 seconds on Sunday as he collided with Charles Leclerc going into Turn One, which sent his car into the air and he suffered too much damage to continue after limping back to the pit lane.

The Mexican has a contract with Red Bull for 2024 and Horner says the plan is to make no changes for next year, despite a disappointing run of results.

“Checo, we just need him to have a confidence-boosting result. He could have had it but it wasn’t to be but great to see Daniel looking like his old self,” said Horner.

“He (Perez) would have been on the podium for sure. We have said to him ‘next race is next week. You were going for the lead in your home race, you wouldn’t be a racing driver if you weren’t going for it’. It’s a big loss for him with a car that was capable of being on the podium.”

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A dramatic opening lap of the Mexico City GP sees Charles Leclerc collide with Sergio Perez, with the Mexican having to retire

A dramatic opening lap of the Mexico City GP sees Charles Leclerc collide with Sergio Perez, with the Mexican having to retire

Perez holds a 20-point advantage over Hamilton in the battle for second in the driver standings with three events remaining.

Red Bull have never had a one-two in the drivers’ championship and Horner suggests if Perez does not finish runner-up to Max Verstappen, it doesn’t mean he will lose his seat.

“It’s not as binary as that. You have got to look at the circumstances. Checo has an agreement with us next year and that’s our intention for him to be in the car in 2024 and we will give him all the support we can to ensure he finishes second but there’s no pre-requisite that if he’s not second, he’s out,” said the Red Bull team boss.

Asked if he still believes in Perez, Horner added: “Yes. He’s got three races now to convert that second place. He’s had some misfortune, some issues. But we still believe he can do it between now and the end of the year.”

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Highlights from the Mexico City Grand Prix at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez

Highlights from the Mexico City Grand Prix at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez

F1 heads straight to Brazil for the final leg of the Americas triple header and the last Sprint weekend of the 2023 season. Watch every session from the Sao Paulo Grand Prix live on Sky Sports F1 from Friday, with Sunday’s race at 5pm. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW

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