2024 F1 Drivers Under Pressure: Ricciardo, Tsunoda, Bottas, and More

These drivers need to up their game for the 2024 Formula 1 season. With the season only going into its third race of 24 this weekend, there are several drivers who need to elevate their performance to earn a 2025 their spot at the pinnacle of motorsport. 

Pierre Gasly: Time to Shine

Gasly has been underperforming compared to his possibilities for several years now. His bid at the Red Bull mothership was unceremoniously short lived, although he arguable wasn’t given the necessary support from his team and probably didn’t feel much confidence from a team who famously beat their drivers around in their relentless pursuit of a championship winning team. Gasly showed his true grit and spirit when he kept his cool and performed with good marks after being demoted back to Alpha Tauri (currently Racing Bulls). He is considered a good racing driver by many, but in my opinion nevertheless has a lot to prove as he doesn’t seem to ever reach his supposed potential. With Ocon as his current teammate Pierre Gasly really has his work cut out for him in Alpine, and is struggling with a lacklustre car. Nonetheless, he seems to have deep confidence from the team and is the most unlikely to loose his seat out of the drivers on our list.

Kevin Magnussen: Potential vs. Reality

So much potential and so little to show for it. Feisty, inconsistent and penalty prone, Magnussen entered Formula One with big fanfare, ending on the podium in his debut race. After that, his gloria has slowly deteriorated and he finds himself in a car and team that keeps underperforming year after year. Having been axed by Haas for the 2020 season, his comeback came more due to circumstances than trust in his performance. With Russian national Nikita Mazepin’s contract terminated due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Magnussen was given a second chance at Haas in 2022. As with his Formula 1 debut race, he showcased his capabilities and finished in a well deserved fifth place giving him and the team a whopping 10 points. Since then, Kevin has only scored 18 points in 45 races. In a unimpressive car for sure, but other drivers have shown a capability of seemingly driving beyond the performance of the car and get the most ut of it. In 2023 Hulkenberg average a starting position was 14.5 compared to Magnussen’s 15.6 and scored 9 points to Magnussen’s 3. Clearly there is an uneven balance in the team, and Kevin Magnussen needs to show he deserves continuation in F1.

Yuki Tsunoda: Time is Running Out

With his short temper and consistently censored radio communication due to swearing, Tsunoda is in his fourth year in Formula 1 and is yet to make a convincing case for his position. His seat is rumoured to be propped by Honda, as they want to promote a fellow national to appeal to their home country. He was consistently outperformed by Gasly and ended up behind repeatedly reserve driver Liam Lawson when the New Zeelander stood in for an injured Ricciardo for a couple of races. Being beaten by someone with no previous F1 grand prix experience is not a sign of excellence. Given the strong backing from Honda, Tsunoda has gotten many more breaks than any other Red Bull/Racing Bull driver have gotten. Maybe 2024 is the year when RB simply puts their unusually soft foot down and opts for someone with a higher likelihood of becoming a future top driver.

Zhou Guanyu: Now or never

As all (with perhaps notable exceptions such as Mazepin) rookies coming into F1, Zhou entered with some promise. He is the first, and so far only, Chinese national to ever drive in F1. However, he has never gotten his performance up at a consistent high level and has yet to show the common sign for a great driver; Driving better than the car should allow for, such as Russell did in Williams and Albon is doing now. In his third year in the series, he needs to step it up significantly to show he deserves a spot in the team.

Valtteri Bottas: Can He Rediscover His Form Before It’s Too Late?

Bottas is arguable performing better in social media than on track at the moment. Sporting a mullet and showing the world his love for all things Aussi, he’s humorously being branded as the third Australian driver on the grid. He had a fantastic period while at Mercedes, and although he secured poles and sometimes wins from Hamilton, he was never being able to achieve the consistency needed over an entire season to give Hamilton a true run for his money. He tirelessly tried over and over but wasn’t able to convert his performance into a championship winning bid at Mercedes. He is now seemingly entering the same declining career at Kick Sauber (then Alfa Romeo) as his fellow Finnish national Kimi Räikkönen. Being 34, time is not on his side, and his long time experience should show at a smaller team, but it’s not. His racing craft is simply not there and he has a tendency to back down in tough and close situations come race day. His best race finish since joining Kick Sauber in 2022 is fifth place, and there is no sign of Valtteri making a miraculous switch for the better in terms of performance. Perhaps it’s time for the team to give his seat to a rookie from F2. Just look at Oliver Bearman’s (Ferrari) and Liam Lawson’s (Racing Bull) outstanding performance when jumping in on short notices in 2024 and 2023 respectively, and you see there are amazing talents lining up to show what they’re capable of.

Daniel Ricciardo and Logan Sargeant: Last Chance Opportunities

These drivers are both performing at a level where they simply struggle to earn retaining their place in F1. If we start with Ricciardo, his unfortunate career defining moment was when he opted to eject himself from Red Bull and go to Renault (now Alpine). A decent stint there, saw him jump to McLaren, where he struggled to come to grips with the car, before being axed and out of a Formula 1 seat for 2023. Given a third chance at Racing Bulls, Ricciardo is still struggling with underperforming, showing similar signs to his nightmare run at McLaren and his likely lack of confidence and ability to turn his sobering experience into a winning formula. Sadly, 2024 looks to see Ricciardo axed once again. We all loved the Ricciardo of Red Bull when he could late break past 2-3 cars at a time and lighted the paddock with his smile. That is now a long time ago and he needs something more than the the soft spot Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has for him to stay on.

Logan Sargeant is yet another rookie not making any lasting impression. Although Albon is a tough teammate to have, with his consistent outperforming of the car, Sargeant needs to start showing the long awaited sign of progress and take clear and dependable steps forward to deserve a spot next year. Williams were waiting until the very end of 2023 before opting to give Sargeant one more year and he now needs to turn that trust into performance. Starting the 2024 by finishing last in Bahrain and 15th in Jeddah is unconvincing and unless a drastic change of fortune, we’ll likely see both Sargeant and Ricciardo without a seat by the end of the season.