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F1 star’s answer to looming Ricciardo threat

Sergio Perez says he’s “pretty relaxed” despite the real threat Daniel Ricciardo poses in the Red Bull reserve ranks.

Ricciardo and McLaren mutually parted ways at the conclusion of the 2022 season, leaving the Australian without a Formula 1 drive for 2023.

The Perth-born pilot had options to race for Haas and Williams but has instead set his sights set on a return in 2024 with a more competitive team.

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Red Bull signed Ricciardo off the back of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a role that will see him “assist the team with testing and sim work, as well as commercial activity.”

Perez, who at 32-years-old is just one year younger than Ricciardo, said the Australian’s signing has little in the way of ramifications for him.

“I’m pretty relaxed,” the Mexican told Sky Sports F1.

“We live under a lot of pressure all the time. It doesn’t change anything from my side.

“I think it’s a great achievement for the team to have a driver like Daniel. He’s going to contribute a lot to our team.

“He’s a great guy, he’s one of the guys I get on with the most in the paddock. It’s just great to have Daniel in the team and from my side, it doesn’t change anything.

“Daniel and myself, we started our careers at a similar time. We’ve known each other for a long time and certainly get on with him.”

Featuring on the In The Fast Lane podcast, Ricciardo admitted he is hoping to replicate the likes of Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg before him.

Alonso left Formula 1 at the end of 2018 to compete in the FIA ​​World Endurance Championship and in IndyCar to try and complete the triple crown.

The Spaniard has so far been unsuccessful in winning the Indianapolis 500 to complete the achievement alongside his Monaco Grand Prix and 24 Hours of Le Mans wins.

Alonso returned to Formula 1 with Alpine in 2021 while Hulkenberg is set to race for Haas in 2023 in place of Mick Schumacher.

Hulkenberg’s future teammate Kevin Magnussen spent four years with Haas before he was dropped. Nikita Mazepin’s axing from the team opened the door for a return this year.

Long-time Mercedes protege Esteban Ocon raced for Force India and Racing Point (now Aston Martin) before taking a year off to then join Renault in 2020.

Alex Albon took a similar trajectory having been part of the Red Bull fold for several years before being dropped. He returned in 2022 to race for Williams.

“I know myself obviously better than anybody knows me,” said Ricciardo.

“I know what I need or what I feel will help me. I have confidence in taking the year off because I know what it’ll do for me.

“Of course, when you see other examples and pretty good examples in who you mention – Alonso, Magnussen for example – that’s kind of reassuring. We’re all wired differently and a year off could have a different effect on all of us.

“I look at Alonso for example, someone who loves racing all the time. Him having the time off, I feel like for me to really removed myself maybe a bit more than what he would have done will be even more powerful for me personally.

“That sort of stuff encourages me. It’s the icing on the cake in terms of me feeling like I’ve done the right thing.”

Ricciardo said his nature as a competitive person will no change with a year off and that he’ll find other ways to “get my highs from” in 2023.

“It’ll give me that hard answer – what I truly want,” he added.

“I could watch round one and I’ll be like ‘I don’t want to sit out this whole year’ and that will just build into something really positive for me of the course of 2023 and then if an opportunity arises in ’24 I’ll just be foaming at the mouth.”

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