Daniel Ricciardo makes shock F1 return with AlphaTauri
Daniel Ricciardo will make a shock return to Formula One at the Hungarian Grand Prix a week on Sunday.
The eight-time grand prix winner, who was axed by McLaren at the end of last year, will replace Nyck de Vries at Red Bull’s junior team AlphaTauri for the rest of the year.
Rookie De Vries was hired by AlphaTauri at the beginning of this season but he has been dropped after only 10 races, paving the way for Ricciardo’s sudden comeback.
The 34-year-old Ricciardo’s career looked to be all but over after he was deemed surplus to requirements by McLaren following two underwhelming seasons with the British team.
Ricciardo failed to land a seat for the 2023 campaign and instead elected to return to Red Bull – the team at which he won seven grands prix – as a reserve driver.
Ricciardo got his first taste of this season’s Red Bull during a tyre test at Silverstone on Tuesday – 48 hours after the British Grand Prix in which De Vries finished 17th and last.
Given Sergio Perez’s torrid run of form, which has seen him fall 99 points adrift of team-mate Max Verstappen in the world championship, AlphaTauri’s move to hire Ricciardo will fuel speculation that the Australian could land a seat back at Red Bull.
“I’m stoked to be back on track with the Red Bull family,” said Ricciardo.
AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost said: “I’m very pleased to welcome Daniel back into the team.
“There’s no doubt about his driving skill, and he already knows many of us, so his integration will be easy and straightforward.
“The team will also profit a lot from his experience, as he is an eight-time Formula One grand prix winner.
“I would like to thank Nyck for his valuable contribution during his time with Scuderia AlphaTauri, and I wish him all the best for the future.”
Ricciardo started his F1 career with HRT Racing in 2011 before he joined AlphaTauri, then called Toro Rosso, in 2012. Ricciardo was promoted to Red Bull two years later – winning three times and out-scoring four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.
The Australian took a surprise decision to join Renault in 2019, but after two years with the French team – claiming two podium finishes – he switched to McLaren. However, bar victory at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, Ricciardo underperformed and was replaced by countryman Oscar Piastri.
However, Ricciardo has been at a number of races this season and is regarded as one of the grid’s most popular drivers, particularly in America where the sport is booming thanks to the success of Netflix’s Drive to Survive series.
For De Vries, 28, the writing appeared to be on the wall after ruthless Red Bull motorsport adviser Helmut Marko recently said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was right to have questioned why he was signed.
The Dutch driver crashed on multiple occasions and failed to score a single point with a best finish of 12th at the Monaco Grand Prix in May.Published: by Radio NewsHub