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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 09: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB prepares to drive in the garage during the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 09, 2024 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202403090219 // Usage for editorial use only //

Marko: Ricciardo has to come up with something soon

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 09: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB prepares to drive in the garage during the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 09, 2024 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202403090219 // Usage for editorial use only //

Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko has an ominous warning for Daniel Ricciardo to note and do something about his flagging Formula 1 career, as VCARB teammate Yuki Tsunoda shows up the Australian veteran in Jeddah but also faces scrutiny.

Both drivers are under the spotlight with contracts ending, and nothing certain for 2025. Driver decisionmaker at Red Bull, Marko flung on the pressure in his latest column on Speedweek, reminding 34-year-old Ricciardo and 23-year-old Tsunoda of what is expected of them, while trying to understand their problems. AKA a wake-up call or two.

Amid the Christian Horner saga at Red Bull, insisting on not discussing anything beyond racing, Marko wrote of the situation at VCARB and their drivers: “A word about the Racing Bulls. There’s a lot at stake this season for both Yuki and Daniel.

“Yuki’s qualifying performance was very good, and Ricciardo has to come up with something soon. At least Tsunoda is very good in qualifying, they tend to be near the points in the first stint, only to fall further and further behind afterwards,” bemoaned the 80-year-old Austrian.

What’s going on with Daniel and Yuki?

Ricciardo on Tsunoda shenanigans: A bit of immaturity

Marko ventured: “They cannot maintain the pace in the long run. Whether they are putting too much strain on the tyres or if there are other reasons, they to need find out what.”

At the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Ricciardo P13 and Tsunoda P14 should’ve been the other way around but ‘team orders’ gifted the meaningless position to Dan much to the consternation of Yuki who had out-qualified his VCARB teammate a day earlier. He admitted later that “too much heating in my brain” caused the outburst

At last weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, making it into Q3. Tsunoda again out-qualified Ricciardo by this time by half a second (!) as the Aussie failed to make it beyond Q2. In the race, the pair were lapped with Yuki ending P14 and Dan P16 after spinning on his own, only beating the Williams of hapless Logan Sargeant and the woeful Saubers.

Marko: I found Ollie Bearman’s debut in the Ferrari sensational

On the same weekend, Carlos Sainz’s hospitalisation meant 18-year-old Oliver Bearman stepped up the plate in Jeddah to deliver a stellar performance and hit a home run for youth. Finishing seventh in his F1 debut for Ferrari with less than an hour in the car before he raced it was, was simply sensational.

Bearman’s stellar F1 cameo did not go unnoticed by the man who gave Max Verstappen his break when the Dutch ace was 17, Marko said of F1’s newest star: “I found Ollie Bearman’s debut in the Ferrari sensational.

“To be on a track like Jeddah like that without much practice was really powerful. At times he drove almost at the same level as Charles Leclerc. But what is Ferrari doing now? They are buying the expensive Hamilton, Leclerc has a long-term contract, and now Bearman is showing off a super talent.

“If I were Fred Vasseur, I would immediately find Bearman an F1 cockpit in another team, I don’t know, at Haas for example. Now they have to raise money again to train him. The teams are currently relatively financially saturated and will pay dearly for this.”

Tsunoda and Ricciardo dreaming of Red Bull…

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 07: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB and Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Visa Cash App RB greet a fan on a phone link up prior to practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 07, 2024 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Then Marko unleashed another warning to Ricciardo and Tsunoda: “Bearman – but also our Liam Lawson last season or Pedro Acosta’s debut in MotoGP – shows what truly exceptional talents are. Sure, today the boys are all well prepared when they move up.

“But only if someone is really good can they achieve such achievements right from the start. I found the way Acosta attacked Marc Márquez incredibly refreshing, as was Bearman’s performance in Saudi Arabia. We all want to see something like that,” concluded Marko.

It is no secret that both Tsunoda and Ricciardo (the latter far too loudly) covet a promotion to Red Bull to be teammate to Verstappen, at the expense of Sergio Perez. At this stage, or perhaps at any stage, if this happens it would be career suicide for both VCARB drivers.

Furthermore, the great Red Bull RB20 is so good that Perez can even drive it very fast and consistently. Not as fast as Max of course, but Checo is doing as required of him, namely finishing second and keeping his teammate honest, rather than binning it trying to beat him.

In other words, it’s 10-out-of-10 from the first two GPs for Perez where he has been P2 twice, following the #1 RBR home on both occasions.

Thankfully for them, Red Bull does not need a second driver, as the two they have delivered 1-2 in the 2023 F1 World Championship for the first time, and are dominating this F1 Championship campaign – the two VCARB chaps are nowhere close and rather than eye a move upstairs, best watch out Lawson does not get moved into the RBR B-Team before this season runs out.

Big Question: What’s gone wrong with Daniel Ricciardo?