ADVERTISEMENT
MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JUNE 09: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB looks on in the cockpit of his Visa Cash App RB VCARB 01 prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 09, 2024 in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Brundle: Ricciardo never seemed to be the same driver again

MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JUNE 09: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB looks on in the cockpit of his Visa Cash App RB VCARB 01 prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 09, 2024 in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Martin Brundle has weighed in on the Daniel Ricciardo debate by pointing out that the popular Australian Formula 1 driver has never been the same driver that he was at Red Bull.

The ongoing ‘debate’ grabbed headlines ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix weekend when 1997 F1 World Champion and Indy 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve questioned why Ricciardo was still in F1. Suggesting he has the drive with VCARB only because of his popularity.

His comments were well received by real F1 fans, this site included, while social media trolls had a filed day slamming Villeneuve. The Canadian brushed off the hate by simply stating that criticising Ricciardo comes with repercussions from his followers.

ADVERTISEMENT

The whole affair added spice to an already dramatic weekend at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, whose son Jacques’s words were a wake-up call for Ricciardo who promptly defied his critics by putting the VCARB in P5 on the grid. But then he fluffed his lines in the race but did hang in there to finish P8 in the Grand Prix.

The Villeneuve-Ricciardo spat caught the attention of Sky F1 pundit-in-chief Brundle: “For the record, as it’s become a hot topic due to my Sky Sports F1 colleague Jacques Villeneuve expressing his firm opinions

“I have a fundamental respect for all F1 drivers, not least for Daniel and Jacques, because I know how hard it is to drive such fearsome cars under that spotlight. Daniel has won eight GPs including an outstanding Monaco victory, scored 32 podiums, and has regularly shown world-class talent,” ventured Brundle.

Brundle: But those results were quite a while ago

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - OCTOBER 02: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Red Bull Racing celebrates with Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing after their 1-2 finish during the Malaysia Formula One Grand Prix at Sepang Circuit on October 2, 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // P-20161002-01430 // Usage for editorial use only // Please go to www.redbullcontentpool.com for further Brundle: Ricciardo never seemed to be the same driver again. //

“I wish he’d not left Red Bull at the end of 2018,” admitted Brundle. “That was an emotional and flawed decision, he should have faced up to Max in the best car, then he’d have necessarily raised his game even further.

“Ricciardo never seemed to be quite the same driver again. He clearly still does have speed and race craft, as we witnessed also in the Miami Sprint, but something in his psyche or approach is holding that back and it’s costing him opportunity and longevity,” reckoned Brundle.

StatsF1 back Brundle’s (and most real F1 fans) theory that Ricciardo’s best days were with Red Bull. Seven of his victories came with the team that funded his junior career and entry into F1 with HRT for 11 races in 2011 before promotion to Toro Rosso.

In 2014, Ricciardo got the nod to replace Mark Webber at Red Bull alongside four-time F1 World Champion Sebatson a Vettel who the big-smiling Aussie beat in their first year as teammates in 2014. But then came Max Verstappen.

History shows at the end of 2018 he bailed out of the team, stood down to challenging Verstappen, took the big money and ran away to Renault for an anonymous spell before another big bucks move to McLaren turned into a flop, yet the lingers in the F1 field in the hope of better days while struggling to beat Yuki Tsunoda in the other VCARB.

It is hard to argue what Brundle and Villeneuve state and that is: Ricciardo has never been the same driver he was when racing for Red Bull a decade ago.

Big Question: What went wrong for Daniel Ricciardo in F1?