Red Bull Boss Confirms Daniel Ricciardo Will Be Replaced By Rookie During Japanese Grand Prix

But Ricciardo's return to the front of the grid is still very much a possibility.

Red Bull Boss Confirms Daniel Ricciardo Will Be Replaced By Rookie During Japanese Grand Prix

Image: Getty / Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull boss Helmut Marko has confirmed that Japanese junior driver Ayumu Iwasa will line up in Daniel Ricciardo’s Formula 1 car for the first practice session of the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend.

It hasn’t been the best of starts for Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo during his return to the starting grid. The former Red Bull driver, lining up for its sister team Visa Cash App Red Bull, has so far failed to score points during the opening three races of the 2024 season and fans are starting to wonder if he’ll be able to rediscover some of his lost form.

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Of course, Ricciardo was reintroduced to the team following a string of sub-par performances from the outgoing Nyck de Vries last year. The Dutch rookie came with an incredible CV ahead of his Formula 1 debut at age 28, but he was consistently outperformed by his teammate Yuki Tsunoda during qualifying sessions and when it mattered most.

Data comparing Ricciardo’s qualifying times this year with his predecessor has shown that Yuki Tsunoda has continued this trend with his new teammate this season, coming in 0.446s faster during Bahrain, Jeddah and Melbourne…. and Red Bull bosses have elected to make a change in Japan.

Red Bull’s head of driver development Helmut Marko is never one to mince his words in the media, often speaking with a surprising candour regarding the team’s perspective on driver performance across all competitions. In his role, Marko is always looking at emerging talents across all competitions and certainly doesn’t stand on ceremony when he feels a change is required.

Image: Getty / Red Bull Content Pool

With the Japanese Grand Prix coming up this weekend, the Red Bull boss was excited by the prospect of an all-Japanese driver line-up – albeit temporarily – confirming to Speedweek that Ayumu Iwasa will be promoted from the junior programme for the first practice session.

“It will be a home race for Yuki. According to a recent survey, he is the most popular driver in the world among young people up to the age of 18. This could be something! On Friday we will use our young pilot Ayumu Iwasa in training, an all-Japanese team.”

Helmut Marko

Whilst the change is only for FP1, it speaks to the embarrassment of riches that Red Bull has at its disposal, with drivers such as Liam Lawson and Ayumu Iwasa waiting in the wings for their opportunity in the big time. For Ricciardo, the fairy tale return to the front of the grid is still very much a possibility however, and the Japanese Grand Prix is the perfect opportunity for the Australian driver to kickstart his 2024 season.