Martin Brundle Admits 34-Year-Old F1 Driver Was ‘Thrown in the Deep End’ This Season

Martin Brundle recently shared his thoughts on Daniel Ricciardo’s comeback to the grid in 2023 with AlphaTauri, expressing that he anticipated more from the Australian driver. Brundle’s insights, gleaned from a Q+A session on the Sky Sports F1 website, shed light on the challenges Ricciardo faced during his stint with AlphaTauri.

The unexpected return of Daniel Ricciardo to the Formula 1 grid for the 2023 season raised eyebrows, with Brundle remarking humorously that the only person who might have expected it was Ricciardo himself. The 34-year-old driver joined AlphaTauri to replace Nyck de Vries, who struggled to translate his impressive cameo with Williams in 2022 into consistent performances with AlphaTauri.

Ricciardo, having been released by McLaren, found a new role as Red Bull’s reserve driver. Christian Horner and Franz Tost had high expectations for the seasoned driver, viewing him as a secret weapon for the team. With eight Formula 1 race wins to his name, Ricciardo’s arrival at AlphaTauri carried a weight of anticipation.

Despite the anticipation, Martin Brundle admitted feeling slightly underwhelmed by Ricciardo’s performances in the 2023 season. Even with his experience, Ricciardo faced difficulties, including a challenging return to the track after breaking his hand in the Netherlands. The temporary replacement, Liam Lawson, further added pressure by delivering exceptional performances in Ricciardo’s absence.

In his assessment, Brundle stated, “I don’t think Daniel has perhaps outperformed Tsunoda as I would have expected him to. I know he was thrown in at the deep end, and he was really unlucky with that incident in Zandvoort. So the jury is out on that.”

In a recent interview, Daniel Ricciardo disclosed that the past winter was the first time he had properly relaxed in years. Acknowledging the need for a break, Ricciardo’s mental reset became evident, emphasizing his potential when in the right mindset. Despite his unfortunate injury affecting his return, Ricciardo faced tough competition from the impressive Yuki Tsunoda towards the end of the season.

As rumors circulate about Sergio Perez’s future with his contract expiring next year, attention turns to potential replacements. Daniel Ricciardo is being touted as a possible successor, but Yuki Tsunoda’s consistent performances hint at the possibility of his name entering the discussion as well. Both drivers are undoubtedly motivated by the prospect of a seat in the works Red Bull team in 2024.