Formula 1: Surprise landing spot emerges for Daniel Ricciardo

The future of Daniel Ricciardo has been questioned for over a year now, and it was once thought that he would either continue at RB or leave Formula 1 entirely.
Daniel Ricciardo, RB, Formula 1
Daniel Ricciardo, RB, Formula 1 / Rudy Carezzevoli/GettyImages

When Daniel Ricciardo first took over for Nyck de Vries at RB (formerly AlphaTauri) midway through the 2023 Formula 1 season, the move increased the speculation that he could eventually replace Sergio Perez at Red Bull.

Ricciardo closed the 2023 season on a high note and secured his place at RB for 2024, but odds are the Australian driver will depart from the Red Bull system yet again after Perez recently got a fresh two-year contract extension.

Ricciardo opened the 2024 season with a rough stretch, with teammate Yuki Tsunoda regularly outperforming him. Though the 35-year-old picked it up after a chassis switch to his car, it may not be enough to warrant his continuance within the team, especially considering the fact that Red Bull see RB as a junior team.

During the Austrian Grand Prix weekend, Helmut Marko made some revealing comments on the future of Ricciardo and the team.

"The goal was that [Ricciardo] would be considered for Red Bull Racing with exceptional performances. That seat now belongs to Sergio Perez, so that plan is no longer valid. We will have to put a young driver in there soon. That would be Liam Lawson."

Helmut Marko

Who is the surprise team after Ricciardo’s signature?

Despite their strong links to Carlos Sainz Jr. over the last two months, patience is apparently running out for Williams. The Spaniard’s hesitance has resulted in James Vowles beginning to look elsewhere, and that is where Daniel Ricciardo could come into play. 

While Ricciardo to Williams is not something many would have expected, it would make sense in a number of ways. First off, Ricciardo could drive free of any drama or politics within the team. As Williams are pushing to make their way up the grid again in coming seasons, Ricciardo’s experience and skill could demonstrate its value, if he is given the opportunity.

Additionally, it could be Ricciardo's last chance in Formula 1, considering he may not get any offers elsewhere. Williams would be able to form a strong lineup with a duo of Ricciardo and Alex Albon, and if they end up getting it right with the 2026 regulations, they will certainly reap the benefits with two very good drivers.

Another big advantage for Williams is that the signing would give them more time to develop their junior drivers. At the moment, they have two drivers in Formula 2 with Zak O’Sullivan and Franco Colapinto. By the time 2026 rolls around, getting them accustomed to the new era of cars in the form of free practice sessions and private tests could set the team up for years to come.

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With Ricciardo in the latter stages of his Formula 1 career, perhaps one of the two or even both of Williams' junior drivers can move up as full-time drivers in 2027, depending on whether Albon stays or goes. So Williams pursuing Ricciardo is certainly not a bad idea.