top of page

Are we at the end of the Honey Badger’s Era?

Written by Mina Jigau, Edited by Tarun Suresh


The clock is ticking for our beloved ‘Honey Badger’ to prove he’s still got it. Can he win the race against the numbers and save his career?


Image Credits: NurPhoto via Getty Images

Ricciardo’s return to the paddock back in 2023 had the world in an ecstatic hold. The idea of having him back in the races seemed to fulfill many of our dreams, especially after his anticipated departure from McLaren following undesirable results.


While his testing performance at Silverstone Circuit seemed to impress potential teams, the only ones who offered him a seat were AlphaTauri, now Visa Cash App Red Bull. Was this a premonition? 

 

At the end of 2023, when Sergio Perez’s performance was not at its peak and he found himself on thin ice, it was Ricciardo who posed the biggest threat to his future. However, one wrist injury later and Liam Lawson races alongside Yuki Tsunoda in the Dutch Grand Prix, stealing the spotlight ever so subtly.


Maybe if Ricciardo hadn’t hurt his wrist, Lawson would’ve never stepped foot in his car, and their paths never would’ve clashed so hard to endanger Ricciardo’s future. But Lawson’s glamorous debut catapulted him into an F1 sensation almost overnight, so would it really have mattered if Ricciardo was injured or not?


The discrepancy between the two drivers cannot be ignored, and from recent performances, it is clear that Lawson seems much more prepared than Ricciardo.  


In the beginning races of the 2024 season, Ricciardo had not been able to score any points, finishing consistently at the lower end of the leaderboard. He even received two Did Not Finish (DNF) orders in Japan and now China, albeit the latter might not have been his fault.


There have been plentiful rumours that he is under a lot of pressure from Red Bull’s team principal, Christian Horner, to turn his performance around if he wants to continue his racing career. Horner was the driving force in making the decision to bring Ricciardo back into the racing game. 


Image Credits: Motorsport Images

Amidst all the media speculations about an ultimatum and the whispers from fellow racers, it looks like the attitude towards Ricciardo’s career is rapidly swerving off the road. Before the disappointing performances, everyone thought the Australian driver would reconstruct his image and make a comeback. All signs pointed in that direction.


Following his sabbatical in 2022, Ricciardo said that he “knew that [he] wasn’t done. I didn’t need to jump into a car that weekend, but I wanted to keep building that fire.” Lately, it seems that the public has grown tired of Ricciardo’s endless attempts to re-establish himself.


Eyes have never been more scrutinizing towards Ricciardo, and with the new pressures strangling his potential future in F1, it seems an imminent self-implosion could be on its way. 

 

Bigger ploys overtake the drivers because, after all, sport is intrinsically political. Red Bull motorsport adviser Helmut Marko is known to have made his preference for Lawson in the future of F1, and in the tug-of-war between Horner and Marko, the drivers’ potential might be overlooked.


Although Lawson is still just a reserve driver, with Ricciardo’s decline, he just might kick-start a strong F1 career. Rumours and speculations are all we have right now, and the public seems adamant that this is the end of the Honey Badger’s era, but only time will tell. 

 

“This is me. This is me going all in. If it works, awesome. If it doesn’t, there’s no pointing fingers. I look at myself in the mirror and I know that at least I tried and I’ve done it my way.”  

Daniel Ricciardo in an interview with GQ in March 2024


Image Credits: Chandan Khanna/ AFP

1 comment

1 Comment


Guest
Apr 23

I think the fact he was supposed to be the threat to Perez's drive but is now again apparently battling to save his own drive at back end of the field 'Cash App silly name team' or whatever its called, is all the evidence we need that he is done. Big money move to Renault a few years ago finished Daniel... got used to driving bad cars and operating at P10-15 pace. That's now his habitat.

Like
bottom of page