Formula 1Motorsports

De Vries OUT, Ricciardo IN in Shock AlphaTauri Switcharound

With immediate effect, Daniel Ricciardo will making a Formula 1 comeback, replacing Nyck de Vries on the AlphaTauri Formula 1 team.

After a slightly disappointing start to his Formula One career with the Italian team, de Vries was fired after just ten Grand Prix, it was revealed earlier on Tuesday. Now that AlphaTauri has officially announced de Vries’ departure, Daniel Ricciardo will take up the Dutchman’s position for the remaining 2023 season. The 34 year old Australian, who was Red Bull’s third driver, has been loaned out to their junior squad for the balance of his one year deal. After progressing through the junior divisions with Red Bull support, the Australian raced for Toro Rosso (now known as AlphaTauri) before joining Red Bull between 2014 and 2018. After leaving Red Bull to race for Renault and McLaren, Ricciardo was forced to leave his contract owing to poor results of his own. Red Bull then signed him as a third or reserve driver for the 2023 season.

De Vries Robbed

De Vries won the Formula Two championship in 2019 and, with Mercedes, the Formula E World Championship the following year. Following Alex Albon’s struggle with appendicitis last season, de Vries made his debut for Williams in the 2022 Italian Grand Prix and finished in ninth place, giving the impression that the sky was the limit for him. His performance and experience that day earned attention from various teams but it was the Red Bull organisation that pounced in the offseason and De Vries and Tsunoda were both named as drivers for AlphaTauri for the 2023 season.

Despite the furore about his signing, things at AlphaTauri haven’t gone smoothly for the Dutchman. Apart from a P12 finish at the Monaco Grand Prix, there have not been many highlights for de Vries. De Vries’ age also probably contributed to his demise. After having to wait until he was 28 to have his first F1 start, it was believed that his added experience would give him an edge over the other 2023 rookies, Oscar Piastri and Logan Sargeant. While both de Vries and Sargeant have failed to score a point this season, Piastri also struggled in a poor McLaren car. However, Piastri was given the opportunity to work through the difficulties and is now beginning to benefit from an improved vehicle. De Vries won’t be getting that opportunity.

Apart from the Alfa Romeo entry, the AT04 has been touted as the worst car on the grid this season. The car’s main shortcoming has been rear end instability in slower bends’ late entry phase. In the midst of a corner, the car changes to understeer. Some minor progress has been made following significant Silverstone updates but neither Yuki Tsunoda or De Vries were overjoyed by the improvement. Last year’s, AT03 had a similar problem and even steady veteran, Pierre Gasly, found it difficult to drive.

On a team with a bad car, the best you can do is compare teammate performance. We already mentioned that de Vries’ best performance was a 12th place finish. De Vries’ teammate, Yuki Tsunoda, has only been able to drag a couple of 10th places out of the car and has two championship points currently. While this is, obviously, a better performance, it’s not significantly better. It’s also worth noting that this is Tsunoda’s third year with AlphaTauri and so should be on an upward trajectory with a clear improvement on the 2022 season, but that isn’t the case here either. After the British Grand Prix in 2022, Yuki Tsunoda had 11 points. This isn’t a situation where one driver is vastly outperforming the other, as is the case on AlphaTauri’s big brother team, so why is de Vries the scapegoat?

Ricciardo Given Yet Another Chance

While serving as Red Bull’s third driver, he participated in a Pirelli tyre test at Silverstone after the British Grand Prix. Apparently impressed with his performance in this test, the team with which he won seven of his eight Grand Prix titles is now handing him a fresh opportunity.

Ricciardo has been given a second chance in his Formula One career after being parachuted into AlphaTauri on loan to replace De Vries for the second half of the year. Christian Horner was adamant that there were no plans to bring Ricciardo back into a Red Bull race seat but the move will be made immediately, with Ricciardo returning for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

I am stoked to be back on track with the Red Bull family.

Daniel Ricciardo, via statement

After being replaced by Oscar Piastri at McLaren, Ricciardo had promised to stay in Formula One but he was unable to secure a position on the grid for this season. He stated that he was only interested in driving for a ‘top team’ and not one that would force him to start from scratch. His prospects of securing a spot this season were limited after Red Bull team director Helmut Marko intimated last month that Kiwi driver Liam Lawson was likely to succeed De Vries in the lineup. It now appears that the Australian was talking out of the side of his mouth and will now accept a position on a team that is not only a junior team, but a non-top team that is struggling to provide a decent car for any driver, regardless of who it is.

The journey to see whether this move will bite Daniel Ricciardo in the rear begins a week on Sunday at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

What do you think of this move? Are you glad to see Daniel Ricciardo back? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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