Just before breaking his hand at Zandvoort, Daniel Ricciardo pledged the rest of his Formula 1 career to Red Bull.
The Australian, 33, met with Dr Helmut Marko in Graz during the summer break – just a few days before Marko suddenly started to indicate that Sergio Perez’s place at Red Bull Racing next year was not safe.
However, Marko told f1-insider.com at the Dutch GP. “A meal with Ricciardo has nothing to do with future decisions.”
But at the same time, he confirmed that Mexican Perez – with a contract in his pocket for 2024 – is on notice.
“Perez has to perform,” Marko, 80, told Sky Deutschland.
“He has to improve his qualifying, but everything is clear for the current year. We’ll see what happens next year.”
Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher says Red Bull is right to be wondering if Ricciardo would be a better teammate for Max Verstappen than Perez, 33.
“A driver who is so far away from his teammate is not sustainable in the long run – especially if he doesn’t use the car’s potential and makes too many mistakes,” said the German.
Perez appears to be struggling with the car once again at Zandvoort, with Marko commenting: “We hope he makes it into Q3 tomorrow.”
Before breaking his hand at the wheel of his Alpha Tauri, Ricciardo told reporters at the Dutch circuit that he is pledging the rest of his career to Red Bull.
“I’ve told the big names that now that I’m back in the Red Bull family, I want to stay here. No matter how long my career lasts, I want to end it here.
“Of course it’s my dream to be part of the big team again, but if that doesn’t happen, I’ve made it clear that I want to stay here.”
As for McLaren’s impressive pace with Lando Norris at Zandvoort, Dr Helmut Marko observed: “McLaren has turned their engine up to full speed. We haven’t yet.”